‘My life and my home’: young people start to testify at historic US climate trial
The US’s first-ever trial in a constitutional climate lawsuit kicked off on Monday morning in a packed courtroom in Helena, Montana.
The case, Held v Montana, was brought in 2020 by 16 plaintiffs between the ages of five and 22 from around the state who allege state officials violated their constitutional right to a healthy environment by enacting pro-fossil fuel policies.
In opening statements, Roger Sullivan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, explained that climate change is fueling drought, wildfires, extreme heat and other environmental disasters throughout Montana, taking a major toll on the young plaintiffs’ health and wellbeing. There is a “scientific consensus”, he noted, that these changes can be traced back to the burning of fossil fuels.
He described how some plaintiffs have asthma that has been worsened by abundant wildfire smoke in recent years. Some love to hunt and fish but have seen stocks deteriorate. One plaintiff works as a ski instructor – a job threatened by warm winter temperatures and decreasing snowfall. And others are members of Indigenous tribes whose…