Gov climate plans 'insufficient': top German court rules
Berlin, Germany: Germany's highest court ruled on Thursday that the government's signature climate security strategy was "insufficient" because it failed to set carbon mitigation goals beyond 2030, threatening future generations' freedoms.
The 2019 legislation was negotiated as part of Germany's response to the 2016 Paris climate agreement, which seeks to keep global temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius - and ideally below 1.5 degrees Celsius - in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
However, the German Constitutional Court stated on Thursday that current measures "violate the liberties of the complainants, some of whom are still very young," since they postpone so much of the necessary action until after 2030.
"In order to achieve this, the reductions still required after 2030 will have to be achieved more urgently and at short notice," it said in a statement.
Should Germany use up most of its permitted CO2 emissions by this time, future generations could face a "serious loss of freedom".
The German Constitutional Court partially upheld a number of arguments by environmentalists and young people, ruling that Berlin's new target of reducing CO2 emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 2030 was "incompatible with fundamental rights."
The court argued that, while the state had not violated its obligation to protect people from climate change, the government had not given a detailed timetable for further pollution reductions.
"The risk of serious burdens is significant and can only be reconciled with the potentially affected fundamental rights if precautionary steps are taken to manage the reduction efforts anticipated after 2030," the court said.
The ruling called on Berlin to "at the very least determine the size of the annual emission amounts to be set for periods after 2030".
Aside from a 2030 deadline, Angela Merkel's government launched a new climate change law in 2019 that includes a variety of measures such as incentivizing renewable energy, expanding electric car networks, and carbon trading.
The government must now amend the legislation by the end of next year. The announcement comes just a week after the EU announced new ambitious climate change targets.
According to the legislation, which was agreed upon by member states and the EU Parliament, the EU would reduce carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
Germany announced last month that it had exceeded its annual climate targets set by law for 2020, thanks in part to a decrease in activity during the coronavirus pandemic.