A Montana court ruled in favor of a group of young Americans for the first time in a climate trial on Monday. They accuse the state of violating their rights to a clean environment.
According to the judge, Montana is violating youth rights with policies that don’t take climate into account. Plaintiffs have a basic constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment.
Sixteen youths sued the state in 2020 because, they say, Montana’s permit to produce coal and natural gas exacerbated the climate crisis. According to young people, they have been affected by the “dangerous consequences of fossil fuels and the climate crisis”, to which children are “particularly vulnerable”.
Since 1972, the Montana Constitution states that the state has an obligation to protect the environment. “The state will preserve and enhance a clean and healthy environment in Montana for present and future generations,” the law said.
The judge’s decision cannot prevent the mining or burning of fossil fuels in the western US state. However, it overturned a recently passed state law that prohibited government agencies from considering planetary pollution when permitting fossil fuel projects.
Read also: A court order to reduce emissions must be effective
The case, called Heald v. Montana, was brought by youths between the ages of 5 and 22 and has been watched closely as similar lawsuits are filed across the United States. The judge’s ruling could set an important precedent for other cases.
Julia Olson, an attorney with Our Children Trust representing the youth group, said the ruling in Montana is “a game changer and marks a turning point in this generation’s efforts to save the planet.” According to Olson, there will definitely be more statements like that. “This is a huge victory for Montana, for the youth, for democracy, and for our climate.”
The United States plans to appeal the ruling. Montana has previously said that climate policy should not be determined by the courts. According to the state, it cannot be proven that the climate crisis is caused by Montana’s emissions.
Zombie specialist. Friendly twitter guru. Internet buff. Organizer. Coffee trailblazer. Lifelong problem solver. Certified travel enthusiast. Alcohol geek.