Support CDP’s Groundbreaking Climate Necessity Trial in Minnesota

Three climate activists are going to trial on October 8 in Clearwater County, Minnesota for their courageous protest against the fossil fuel industry. They will have the opportunity to present one of the nation’s first climate necessity defenses — and Climate Defense Project needs your help to make this trial a success.

We need to raise $5,000 in the next three weeks. Can you help us?

CDP has been at the forefront of climate legal activism and the use of the climate necessity defense, a unique legal tool that allows activists to present evidence about the harms of climate change and to justify their civil disobedience in court. In just the past two years, CDP has helped to push the law toward recognition of the climate necessity defense. You can read about some of our courtroom victories here, see what CDP attorneys have said about the defense’s potential for social change, and check out all of our necessity-related resources for attorneys and activists.

The upcoming case in Minnesota stems from the 2016 “Valve Turner” protest action in which activists across four states temporarily shut down pipelines carrying dangerous tar sands oil from Canada. Along with a legal team consisting of local attorney Tim Phillips and Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, CDP secured a groundbreaking ruling from the trial court in Clearwater County allowing the activists to present a full climate necessity defense. Despite the state’s best attempts to deny our clients their right to present their arguments in court, we successfully defended this decision all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Along the way, the Valve Turners and the climate necessity defense garnered significant media attention (see coverage in The New York Times and The Intercept), and CDP recruited over a hundred law professors to submit a brief supporting our legal effort.

Emily Johnston, one of the Minnesota defendants, says: ”The lawyers of CDP are an invaluable and amazing resource: smart, dedicated, and a pleasure to work with. I genuinely enjoyed reading the necessity defense brief they prepared for our case–not a thing I’ve ever said before about legal writing! If they didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them . . .”

Now we’re going to trial, and we need your support.

This case represents a unique opportunity to put the fossil fuel industry on trial for its crimes against the planet and its people. CDP staff and the other defense lawyers will call experts such as co-founder Bill McKibben and climate scientist James Hansen. Putting this case together, and advocating for the climate necessity defense across the country, isn’t easy. We need your help. We’re aiming to raise $5,000 in the next three weeks to help cover trial expenses.

Words from another Minnesota defendant, Annette Klapstein: “Climate Defense Project has provided critical support throughout our long and intricate journey through the legal system. Their attorneys understand how to work with activists to achieve our goals in court and are great at communicating new ideas. It’s not easy to find attorneys like that. Working with them has been a pleasure!”

Please consider making a donation to CDP’s legal work on behalf of the climate movement. Any amount helps.


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