Young climate change advocates in Montana between the ages of five and 22 sued the state government over policies that violated their right to a healthy environment in 2020. Three years later, their case was heard in court, and this week, the judge ruled that state agencies must take into account the effects of greenhouse gas emissions when evaluating energy projects.
According to to an interview with Inside Climate News, Michael Gerrard, founder of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, stated that this ruling is “the strongest decision on climate change ever issued by any court.” The most promising part? Young activists sparked this decisive ruling.
Judge Kathy Seely, who ruled on this case, wrote of the position of the plaintiffs that they have “proven that as children and youth, they are disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts.” The burden of climate change will fall on the youth of our country, and it is important that we listen to these voices.
Activists are empowered by this decision, hoping that more rulings like this follow suit. According to Inside Climate News, “Most youth-led cases related to climate change have run into major hurdles in the U.S…with at least 14 youth-led lawsuits being dismissed by judges.” The Montana ruling sets a precedent that youth-led cases have merit and should be heard, and can result in real change.
Learn more about the decisions here: