A ‘Monumental’ Ruling
16 young people aged between 5 and 22 accused Montana officials of violating their right to a “clean and healthful environment” by permitting and promoting the use of fossil fuel development without consideration for its effect on climate change.
This was one of the strongest decisions on climate change ever issued by a court. Julia Olson, the lead attorney representing the young plaintiffs, stressed that the court’s decision is nothing short of “monumental.” The success of this case will no doubt go on to inspire similar lawsuits worldwide.
The Key to Success
The judge’s ruling is based in part on an article of the Montana Constitution, which specifies that the “state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”
The court also heard testimony from climate, energy and medical experts. The ruling comes during a summer of record heat and deadly wildfires that experts attribute to climate change. The success of this case could now see both governments and businesses held more accountable for their decisions that negatively impact the environment.
The state now has 60 days to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Montana supreme court.
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For more information on the Montana lawsuit read this article from The Guardian.