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GERMAN COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF YOUTH CLIMATE ACTIVISTS, CALLS FOR ACTION

05/10/2021

On April 29, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of nine young climate activists in their challenge against Germany’s 2019 Federal Climate Change Act. The law aims to meet the country’s carbon emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement and calls for the German government to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels. However, in its current form, the law does not specify actions to be taken between 2030-2050, though Germany has declared that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 (New York Times and E&E).

The young activists argued that by failing to lay out a plan for the post-2030 period, the German government was endangering the rights and freedom of future generations, leaving them to deal with the environmental consequences. The Constitutional Court agreed, finding that the government had violated Article 20a of the German Constitution, which lays out protections for both current and future generations. The court’s decision also included detailed discussion of scientific reports by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (E&E and Reuters).

The landmark ruling is already spurring action by the German government. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze announced the country’s newly proposed targets on May 5, including pushing forward its net zero emissions goal to 2045 (Climate Home News).