Court orders Germany to set clear goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Germany’s top court has ruled that the government has to set clear goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2030, arguing that current legislation does not go far enough in curbing climate change.
Several individuals backed by environmental groups had filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court arguing that their rights were impinged by the lack of sufficient targets beyond the next decade.
Germany, like other European Union countries, aims to cut emissions by 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
In their ruling on Thursday, judges said the current legislation “irreversibly pushes a very high burden of emissions reduction into the period after 2030?.
Judges cited the Paris accord goal of keeping global warming well below 2C (3.6F), ideally 1.5 (2.7 F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times.
The court ordered the government to come up with new targets from 2030 onward by the end of next year.
Lawyer Felix Ekardt, who brought one of the cases, said the verdict was “ground-breaking” for Germany.
“Germany’s climate policy will need to be massively adjusted,” he said.
Climate campaigners expressed delight at the verdict.
“It’s an incredibly good day for hundreds of thousands of young people,” said climate activist Luisa Neubauer, who was one of the plaintiffs.
Germany is holding federal elections in September. The environmentalist Greens party, which has called for tougher emissions reduction targets, is currently leading in several polls.
The cases in Germany are part of a global effort by climate activists to force governments to take urgent action to tackle climate change.
Among the first successful cases was one brought in the Netherlands, where the Supreme Court two years ago confirmed a ruling requiring the government to cut emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 from benchmark 1990 levels.