Our Children’s Trust is a left-of-center “public interest” litigation group which has filed lawsuits on behalf of children and young adults in court to secure “systemic, science-based emissions reductions and climate recovery policy at all levels of government.”
The Trust is most famous for filing the case Juliana v. United States, which asserts that federal energy policy contributes to climate change, supposedly violating a constitutional right to “life, liberty, and property.” If U.S. courts were to rule in the Trust’s favor, judges would be able to establish a cap on total carbon dioxide emissions for the entire country without democratic review or debate.
In addition to filing, the Trust has deployed this lawsuit formula in courts across the U.S. and around the world, most notably in Colombia, where the country’s Supreme Court granted legal rights to a forest. 
Julia Olson founded Our Children’s Trust in 2010 and serves as the organization’s executive director and chief legal counsel.
Olson is a career environmentalist litigator who founded Our Children’s Trust (ostensibly after being inspired by former Vice President Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth) with the help of another environmental lawyer, Mary Wood. The group received its tax -exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2011. On Mother’s Day 2011, the group coordinated either a lawsuit or a petition for administrative rulemaking in all fifty U.S. states, the federal government, and in several countries.
In addition to advocacy through the courts, the Trust also organizes YouCAN, a program that teaches children and their families how to advocate for and participate in the creation of environmental regulation. The Trust clarifies on its homepage that YouCAN is not interested in creating “a platform for adults to involve youth in pushing for ‘politically feasible’ municipal action for action’s sake. Adopting insufficient climate goals does not benefit youth and future generations, it hurts them.” There are four YouCAN chapters so far, all located in Oregon.
International Legal Action
Our Children’s Trust claims to be taking legal action in Belgium, Colombia, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda, and Ukraine.
On April 5, 2018, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trust’s plaintiffs, declaring that the Colombian Amazon forest is an “entity subject of rights.” In effect, the court bestowed the forest with legal personhood, which the government is required to protect.
Florida Climate Change Lawsuit
Our Children’s Trust made headlines in April of 2018 when it organized a group of children to sue Governor Rick Scott (R-Florida) for furthering climate change. Earlier that month, Governor Scott had recently signed one of the largest environmental protection budgets in the state’s history – $4 billion – and dismissed the suit as “political theater.”
Juliana v. U.S.
In 2015, twenty-one children filed suit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court of Oregon, represented in part by Julia Olson. Private fuel companies joined the Obama administration in asking that the suit be dismissed, a request U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin ultimately rejected. Coffin called Juliana v. U.S. an “unprecedented lawsuit,” saying: 
“It may be that eventually the alleged harms, assuming the correctness of plaintiffs’ analysis of the impacts of global climate change, will befall all of us. But the intractability of the debates before Congress and state legislatures and the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life, necessitates a need for the courts.”
After President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the Department of Justice took the unusual step of petitioning for a writ of mandamus to order the U.S. District Court to correct its earlier decision to allow Juliana v. U.S. to trial. In its statement, the Department of Justice said the lower court had “rendered unprecedented and clearly erroneous rulings” and had shown “a remarkable disregard for essential separation-of-powers limitations.”
In July of 2018, the Supreme Court denied the Trump administration’s request while also stating, “The breadth of respondents’ claims is striking.” Federal lawyers later described the plaintiffs’ claims as “amorphous and sweeping,” which, if upheld, would create an impossible situation for the government – allowing unlimited judicial review of “all federal policy decisions related to fossil fuels, energy production, alternative energy sources, public lands, and air quality standards.”