Young Activists: 4 Climate Change Lawsuits Led by Minors

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In recent years, the issue of climate change has taken center stage in legal battles worldwide, with young activists stepping up to demand action and accountability. Notably, the power of youth voices has been exemplified through several groundbreaking lawsuits filed by minors. These courageous individuals have sought to hold governments and corporations accountable for their actions and fight for a sustainable future. Let’s explore four notable lawsuits brought forth by young activists in their relentless pursuit of environmental justice.

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Photo by Colin Lloyd

Juliana v. United States (USA)

The Juliana v. United States lawsuit, filed in 2015, has become an emblematic case in the fight against climate change. A group of 21 young plaintiffs, aged between 11 and 22, sued the U.S. federal government for violating their constitutional rights to a safe and livable climate. The lawsuit argued that the government’s actions, including the promotion of fossil fuels, have contributed to climate change and jeopardized future generations’ well-being. Although facing numerous legal hurdles, the case garnered significant attention, highlighting the urgency of addressing climate change and inspiring young activists worldwide.

Urgenda Foundation v. Netherlands (The Netherlands)

In 2015, the Urgenda Foundation, together with nearly 900 Dutch citizens, including children, won a historic case against the Dutch government. The lawsuit asserted that the government had failed to take sufficient action to combat climate change, violating its duty to protect the well-being of its citizens. The court ruled in favor of Urgenda, ordering the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. This ruling set a precedent for climate litigation globally, emphasizing the legal responsibility of governments to address the climate crisis.

Nature and Youth v. Government of Norway (Norway)

Nature and Youth, a Norwegian environmental organization, and Greenpeace Nordic sued the Norwegian government in 2016 for issuing new oil drilling licenses in the Arctic. Among the plaintiffs were young activists concerned about the devastating impact of fossil fuel exploration on the environment and climate. In 2020, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, recognizing that the government’s decision violated the right to a healthy environment as guaranteed by the Norwegian Constitution. This landmark verdict highlighted the intergenerational responsibility to protect vulnerable ecosystems and set an important precedent for similar cases worldwide.

Montana Climate Change Lawsuit (USA):

In Montana, a group of young activists has initiated a groundbreaking lawsuit to address the impacts of climate change and hold the state accountable for its environmental policies. Led by minors, this legal battle highlights the power of youth voices in demanding action against climate change.

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