Germany's Highest Court Rules That Government Must Revise Climate Act To Protect Future Generations

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, Reuters

Germany’s highest court ruled Thursday that the government’s climate protection plan was insufficient to protect future generations, ordering officials to set clear goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2030. 

In its ruling, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, or Federal Constitutional Court, said Berlin’s current plan was “incompatible with fundamental rights” because it failed to cover the years beyond this decade and would “irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030.”

Germany’s Climate Change Act, which was passed in 2019 to comply with the Paris Agreement, committed to cutting emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and included measures to meet that goal, including incentivizing renewable energy, and expanding electric car infrastructure and carbon trading.

The law did not set specific targets for Germany’s long-term goal of cutting emissions to be net zero by 2050, and environmental advocates, who have long argued the legislation needs to go further, opted to pursue legal action against the government to strengthen the measures.

With backing from large environmental groups including Greenpeace and the Fridays for Future movement, German activists filed complaints to the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that their rights were at risk by the lack of targets beyond the next decade.  

On Thursday, Felix Ekardt, a lawyer who brought one of the cases, called the verdict “groundbreaking” for Germany. 

Ekardt told The Associated Press, “Germany’s climate policy will need to be massively adjusted.”

Among the plaintiffs was 22-year-old Sophie Backsen, who feared that rising sea levels would destroy her family’s farm on an island in the North Sea and leave her with no inheritance.

“We are super happy with the court’s decision,” she told Reuters. “Effective climate protection has to be implemented now and not in 10 years’ time, when it’ll be too late.”

Germany’s Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier described the ruling as “big and significant.” He also called it a welcome decision for the economy because it would help the country “plan for the future.” 

Altmaier also said officials would start drawing up the legislation soon to meet the court’s December 2022 deadline for new climate targets.

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Source: Equities News

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