Germany's climate protection law does not go far enough, court rules
Germany’s Climate Protection Act of 2019 falls short of requirements, the Federal Constitutional Court has ruled. The federal government now has until the end of next year to improve its emissions targets from 2031.
Climate package insufficient, Federal Constitutional Court rules
Following a complaint by a coalition of climate activists, Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the climate package passed by the federal government two years ago does not go far enough. Specifically, the judges ruled that the law does not explain in enough detail how greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced after 2031.
“The regulations irreversibly postpone high emission reduction burdens until periods after 2030,” the court’s statement said. Limiting the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees celsius, as planned, would then only be feasible with increasingly urgent and short-term measures. “Practically, any freedom is potentially affected by these future emission reduction obligations.”
The legislature should therefore have taken precautions to ensure a freedom-friendly transition to climate neutrality, the judges said. The federal government now has until the end of 2022 to draw up clearer reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the period after 2030.
Constitutional complaint submitted by young climate activists
In so ruling, the court partially sided with constitutional complaints submitted by a group of nine mostly young people, who are being supported by climate activism groups like Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Fridays for Future. The claimants argued that the government's climate protection law was insufficient to limit climate change, and therefore violated their fundamental right to a humane future.
Approved by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat in 2019, the federal government’s climate act is a package of laws that legislates for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the act, Germany must cut emissions by 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. The law also sets out yearly upper emissions limits for various sectors of the economy, including energy, transportation, buildings and agriculture.