Youth activists win landmark US climate legal victory in Montana case
Youth activists win landmark US climate legal victory in Montana case

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A Montana judge ruled in favor of youth climate activists on Monday, a landmark decision establishing young people’s right to a “clean and healthy environment.”

Judge Kathy Seeley found that the state’s decision to exclude consideration of emissions impacts in oil and gas permits violated the Montana Constitution’s right to a “clean and healthy environment” and that the state’s carbon The footprint has caused “injury and damage”. Injury to Young Plaintiff”.

The Held v. Montana case was filed in March 2020 in Lewis and Clark counties, the state capital of Helena. While its immediate impact is limited to western states, it could influence future court decisions on the responsibility of the government and the fossil fuel industry for climate change.

During a week-long trial in June, the plaintiffs testified alongside climate scientists and medical experts about the negative effects of climate change on the well-being and development of young people.

“Today’s Montana ruling is a game-changer and marks a turning point in a generation’s effort to save the planet from the devastating effects of man-made climate chaos,” said Julia Orr, executive director of Trust for Our Children, who brought the case Sen said. on behalf of the plaintiff.

The ruling comes as the world experiences record-breaking heat and the U.S. state of Hawaii faces its deadliest wildfire outbreak in more than a century. While the decision is the first of its kind in the United States, similar rulings have followed in favor of young environmentalists around the world, including in the Netherlands, Germany and Pakistan.

Sierra Club executive director Ben Jealous called the ruling a “historic victory” that ensures a livable future for generations.

“We must act with greater urgency to protect those already threatened by the climate crisis and leave a better world for future generations,” Envy said.

Emily Flower, a spokeswoman for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, one of the defendants in the case, called the ruling “ridiculous” and said the state would This appeals.

“Montana cannot be blamed for climate change — even plaintiffs’ expert witnesses agree that our state has no impact on the global climate . Earn yourself a spot in the next documentary,” Flower said.

Legal experts are skeptical about the immediate impact of the court ruling, but say the ruling will inform future youth-led climate cases.

“This decision is limited to the Montana Constitution and has no precedent value outside the state,” said Michael Berger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. The determination of this judge . . . will influence and inform the conduct of judges in other courts elsewhere in the United States and around the world.”

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