Big Win for Youth Climate Movement
In a landmark ruling that The Washington Post has called groundbreaking, a group of young activists, aged between 5 and 22, have scored a big win for the youth climate movement in Montana’s courts. Their spirited stance? That by promoting fossil fuels, the state infringed on their right to a “clean and healthful environment.” The court found that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act, which prevented the consideration of climate impacts from energy projects, was unconstitutional and harmful to both the environment and the young plaintiffs.text compelling and engaging for readers
Julia Olson, the head of Our Children’s Trust, the driving force behind the lawsuit, lauded the decision as a defining moment for the climate movement. The court’s ruling, which dismantles the barrier against climate considerations, stands as one of the most resolute proclamations on climate change ever issued by a court. This breakthrough could herald a wave of new cases aimed at tackling climate concerns head-on.
This triumph is exceptional for climate advocates who’ve harnessed the legal system to challenge governmental policies and corporate actions that endanger our environment. Despite prior rejections of youth-led climate cases across the U.S., Montana’s success lies partly in the state’s constitutional pledge to a clean environment. This judgment might well be a guiding light for judges in other states facing similar battles, compelling them to scrutinize climate-related claims more earnestly.
While an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court is anticipated, experts believe this historic ruling could embolden young activists to persist in their pursuit of legal channels to combat climate change and secure a sustainable future. This landmark success has the potential to embolden youth nationwide, sparking further legal contests over climate-related matters.
What sets this ruling apart:
Shattering Boundaries: The court’s resolute stance against a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act demonstrates a pivotal shift. It champions climate concerns and safeguards the rights of both our environment and the younger generation.
Paving Legal Pathways: This victory’s influence might ripple across the nation, especially in states with environmental rights enshrined in their constitutions. It could elevate climate considerations within the legal realm.
Igniting Change: With the unwavering backing of nonprofit law firm Our Children’s Trust, these young plaintiffs may have opened the door to future climate-related legal battles, amplifying the urgency of addressing this global crisis.
While an appeal looms, the resonance of this case is undeniable: our determined youth, committed to a sustainable future, are not merely our hope—they’re actively reshaping our trajectory. Let’s unite behind them as they rewrite history, one case at a time.
Click to learn more about the Juliana case and other youth-led climate litigations led by Our Children’s Trust in the U.S. and around the world. Your contribution will advance science-based climate litigation on behalf of children and future generations to come.
Hawaii Youth Climate Case
The Hawaii youth climate case involves 14 young advocates for environmental justice who are suing the Hawaii Department of Transportation. The case, Navahine F. v. Hawai’i Department of Transportation, alleges that the state’s transportation system contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and worsens climate change. Indigenous youth are leading the effort to hold the state accountable for its emissions. The trial is scheduled for June 2024, representing a key move in addressing climate issues through legal means. Earthjustice and Our Children’s Trust are supporting the young plaintiffs to protect their constitutional rights and future well-being.
Watch YOUTH v GOV documentary –
the story of how it all started.
Runtime: 110 minutes
Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Cinematographer: Christi Cooper
YOUTH v GOV
YOUTH v GOV is the story of the Juliana v. The United States of America constitutional lawsuit and the 21 American youth, ages 14 to 25, who are taking on the world’s most powerful government. Since 2015, the legal non-profit Our Children’s Trust, has been representing these youth in their landmark case against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through their willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.
As leaders in the youth climate movement, the twenty-one plaintiffs of Juliana v. The United States of America represent the diversity of American youth impacted by the climate crisis. They hail from 10 states: Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Louisiana, and New York. The young plaintiffs encompass cultural, economic and geographic diversity and many come from marginalized communities, serving as beacons of hope for those who do not have a platform to share their own stories. They are African-American, Indigenous, white, bi-racial, and LGBTQ, and their diversity speaks not only to the impacts of climate change, but to the inclusion required if we are to build a better and more just future together. These young people are activists, students, artists, musicians, and farmers, and their stories are universal.
Click to find out where to watch, host a screening, license the film, donate and take action.