Montana [US], August 15 (ANI): The Montana state in US on Monday (local time) took the decision in the favour of people who alleged that the state had violated their right to a “clean and healthful” environment by promoting the use of fossil fuels, according to The Washington Post. 

Calling the Montana Environmental Policy Act’s provision unconstitutional, the court said that it harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects.

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“This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy and for our climate,” said Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust, which brought the case. “More rulings like this will certainly come,” she added.

The experts believe that this win could motivate the environmental movement and usher in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change, reported The Washington Post.

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A total of 16 young Montanans, ranging from the age of 5 to 22, became the nation’s first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial. Those youths are elated by the decision, according to Our Children’s Trust.

Sariel Sandoval, member of the Bitterroot Salish, Upper Pend d’Oreille and Diné Tribes, is one of 16 youth plaintiffs suing the state of Montana over its contributions to climate change. (Amy Osborne for The Washington Post)

Badge Busse, 15, plaintiff, in the forested area near his home in Kalispell, Mont. (Taylyr Irvine for The Washington Post)

Though the cumulative number of climate cases around the world has more than doubled in the last five years, youth-led lawsuits in the United States have faced an uphill battle, as per The Washington Post.

Already, at least 14 of these cases have been dismissed, according to a July report from the UN Environment Program and Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. The report said about three-quarters of the approximately 2,200 ongoing or concluded cases were filed before courts in the United States.

But the number of successes internationally is growing, as is the diversity of those taking these cases to court, including a rise in legal action brought by youths, women’s groups, local communities and Indigenous people. Of the cases that have been decided, more than half have had outcomes favourable to climate action, according to a 2023 report from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The Montana case will face an appeal to the state Supreme Court, Emily Flower, a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R), confirmed Monday. She decried the ruling as “absurd” and said Montanans cannot be blamed for changing the climate, reported The Washington Post.

The Montana youths behind a historic climate lawsuit, and the places they love

“Their same legal theory has been thrown out of federal court and courts in more than a dozen states,” said Flower. “It should have been here as well.” (ANI)

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