A first-of-its-kind climate trial just ended — will it work?

Lead claimant Rikki Held, 22, confers with members of Our Children’s Trust legal team before the start of the nation’s first youth climate change trial at Montana’s First Judicial District Court on June 12th, 2023, in Helena, Montana. | Photo by William Campbell / Getty Images

A landmark US climate trial over whether the state of Montana is violating young people’s right to a healthy environment came to an early close on Tuesday. Its outcome could shift policy in a state with one of the biggest coal reserves in the nation and might even influence a slew of other suits outside of Montana.

The case, Held v. Montana, was filed by a group of 16 youths ranging from five to 22 years old. They say they “have been and will continue to be harmed by the dangerous impacts of fossil fuels and the climate crisis,” according to the complaint filed in March 2020. Similar suits have been filed by young people across the US. But last week, the Montana case became the first in the nation to make it to trial.

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