News: Climate Protection Act overturned - Germany as a pioneer for Europe

The law passed in 2019 only contains inadequate requirements for reducing emissions after 2030

One Planet Flag Climate Protection Act

Author: Hanna Werner

  • The Climate Protection Act violates fundamental rights in some parts
  • The law from 2019 must be improved by the end of 2022
  • Germany sets precedent for Europe

Judgment: unconstitutional - the inadequate climate protection law restricts fundamental rights

The law passed in 2019 only contains inadequate requirements for reducing emissions after 2030, the Federal Constitutional Court announced in its ruling. The court justified its decision by stating that some parts of the Climate Protection Act violated fundamental rights and were therefore unconstitutional. The legislature is transferring the increasing consequences of climate change due to the lack of mentioning of measures to reduce emissions after 2030 onto the shoulders of the younger generation.

In order to limit global warming to a global increase of 1,5 degrees, increasingly acute and, above all, short-term measures would have to be taken after 2030. That would lead to an enormous restriction of the freedoms of the mostly very young plaintiffs. In the eyes of the judges, the legislature should have taken better precautions in order to preserve the freedom of fundamental rights in order to reduce the high burden of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fridays for Future actors reach the deadline for improvement by the end of 2022

Due to the ruling, the legislature is now obliged to improve the law by December 31, 2022. It must define clear measures to ensure that the targets for reducing emissions can also be met from 2031 onwards.

Nine young people between the ages of 15 and 32 have come together to take legal action against the Climate Protection Act. They were supported by various environmental associations, such as Greenpeace and the Hamburg lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen. Among them is also the co-founder of the German Fridays for Future movement: Luisa Neubauer.

Historical judgment - what does this mean for Europe?

The decision of the Federal Constitutional Court surprised not only the plaintiffs themselves, but all observers. One can speak of a historical judgment that could encourage other courts, especially in other European countries, to make similar decisions. There are also complaints against the inadequate climate targets in many neighboring European countries. However, the majority of these have so far been rejected by the courts. For the ongoing proceedings in Belgium, France and soon also Italy, the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court could serve as an example and encourage similar decisions.

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