Peter A Allard School of Law

The Youth Climate Litigation Wave: Part 3 – Held v State of Montana

The Centre for Law and the Environment’s four-part series, The Youth Climate Litigation Wave, will cover four leading cases from Canada and the US in which youth are demanding climate accountability and action from their government. Each session in the series will delve into a particular case and attendees will get to learn about the case from both a lawyer and plaintiff involved in the case. Attendees can join the session in person at Allard Hall or join the webinar virtually.


About Held v. State of Montana

Held v State of Montana was the first constitutional climate trial in the US. In August 2023, the First Judicial District Court of Montana ruled wholly in favor of sixteen youth plaintiffs, declaring that the state of Montana violated the youth’s constitutional rights, including their rights to equal protection, dignity, liberty, health and safety, and public trust, which are all predicated on their right to a clean and healthful environment. The court invalidated as unconstitutional Montana laws that promoted fossil fuels and required turning a blind eye to climate change. The court also ruled that the youth plaintiffs had proven their standing to bring the case by showing significant injuries, the government’s substantial role in causing them, and that a judgement in their favor would change the government’s conduct.

The decision, the first of its kind in the US, is considered to set crucial evidentiary and elgal precedent for the right of youth to a safe climate.  


About the Speaker

Nate Bellinger

Nate Bellinger earned a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts before moving to Oregon. After spending three years working as a firefighter, ski instructor, and rafting guide, Nate returned to school and earned a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Oregon. His thesis documented the social and environmental impacts of Ecuador’s commercial tuna fishing industry. Nate then decided to pursue a law degree to develop an additional skill set to fight for solutions to the multitude of injustices in the world, and in 2014, graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law.

As a Senior Staff Attorney at Our Children’s Trust, Nate works to protect the constitutional rights of youth to a stable climate system and advocates for science-based solutions to the climate crisis. Nate’s scholarship has been published in the ABA magazine, Natural Resources & Environment, and the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy. When not at work, you can find Nate working in his garden, running in the woods, or exploring the Pacific Northwest’s magnificent lakes and forests with his family.

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