Smiley Movement logo

Young people win unprecedented climate protections in Montana

Words by Tess Becker

Montana, a state known for its beautiful, wide open landscapes and rolling hills, has just had a massive climate win. A Montana judge has sided with 16 young activists saying that the state violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment,” which is guaranteed by the Montana state constitution.

The activists alleged that pro-fossil fuel policies contributed to climate change, in violation of the aforementioned constitutional promise. 

"It's wonderful being able to grow up here. And it's such a beautiful place," Rikki Held, the 22-year-old lead plaintiff in the lawsuit told the BBC.

Organizations including Our Children’s Trust led the lawsuits against the state government in order to protect the futures of young people.

“[The state is] permitting and promoting a fossil-fuel based energy system, and that's contributing to climate change emissions,” Nikki said. “It goes against some of our basic rights that are written in our constitution.”

The lawsuit targeted a 2011 state law that made it illegal for environmental reviews to consider climate impacts when deciding on new projects, like building new power plants.

Similar cases will soon be heard in several other states, including Hawaii, Utah, and Alaska, as well as in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Colombia, and Uganda.

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Women Invested to Save Earth Fund. This organization helps support underrepresented and underfunded Black, indigenous, and women of color-led organizations across the world. Find out more and support them here

Giraffe Conservation Foundation. They help nonprofits protect and conserve giraffes. Check them out here.

The Life You Can Save. An organization that helps mobilize aid to regions affected by malaria. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…