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By Ray Levy Uyeda, The Guardian

Row 1: Rikki, Lander, Lilian, Ruby Row 2: Georgi, Badge, Eva, Kian Row 3: Taleah, Olivia, Jeff, Nate Row 4: Mica, Claire, Grace, Sariel

The 16 plaintiffs who are suing Montana are: row one: Rikki, Lander, Lilian, Ruby; row two: Georgi, Badge, Eva, Kian; row three: Taleah, Olivia, Jeff, Nate; row four: Mica, Claire, Grace, Sariel Photograph: Courtesy of Our Children’s Trust

Sixteen young people are suing the state of Montana in what will be the first youth-led climate case to make it to trial

When Grace Gibson-Snyder was 13, she launched an independent project in her home town of Missoula, Montana, to encourage restaurants not to use single-use plastic containers. She found that youth activism enabled her to press the adults in her life to take the climate crisis seriously. Even if she was too young to vote, she could still be heard.

Three years later Gibson-Snyder upped the ante by teaming up with 15 other young people on a novel approach to climate activism: to sue the state of Montana for failing to protect their generation from irreversible harm brought by the climate crisis.

Their case, Held v State of Montana, argues that state lawmakers have prioritized the business interests of the fossil fuel industry over their future. When their case is heard next February, it will be the first in a wave of youth-led climate lawsuits to successfully go to trial. Experts say a decision in favor of the 16 youth plaintiffs could have sweeping implications across the country, setting guard rails for how politicians are able to protect the interests of extractive corporations.

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