PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A group of young activists held a press conference in Portland Saturday ahead of an appellate court hearing in the case of Juliana v. United States.

The lawsuit is a landmark case arguing that the government is violating the youths’ constitutional right to have a future by allowing the climate crisis. 

The case argues that the flooding and arctic temperatures in the east and the wildfires and droughts in the west show climate change is not just an impending threat that risks the future of this nation but is a present crisis. 

During the hearing on June 4, the activists will make their case for a speedy trial, which they hope to have transferred back to the district court in Eugene. There are legislators and experts there who support the case.

Nathan Bearing, a 19-year-old plaintiff in the case from Fairbanks, Alaska, spoke about being an activist since age 13. He said the warming of the Alaskan Arctic is threatening cultures and communities as the ice melts.  

Bearing wants to remind the government that making decisions based on short term economic interests denies future generations the right to a stable climate. 

A pair of high school students also shared their new organization — Youth Rising for Environmental Action. They started the group after a SOLVE beach cleanup event opened their eyes to how much trash washes up on beaches. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joined the activists to talk about how Portland has been ahead of the curve on reducing climate emissions. He said Portland was the first city to have a climate action plan and has reduced emissions by 40%. 

Portland has also made strides to reduce single-use plastics, like straws, utensils and shopping bags. 

The Portland press conference was one of about 100 taking place across the country on June 1. The intention is to send a national message that young people are on the front lines of combating the climate crisis.

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