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June 29, 2021

Germany’s highest court requires reduction in climate burden on youth

In a case brought by a coalition of climate change activists, Germany’s topmost constitutional Court has ruled that aspects of the country’s climate change legislation are unconstitutional.  The Bundesverfassungsgericht ordered that provisions be enacted specifying in greater detail how Germany’s emissions are to be reduced from 2031.

The complainants argued that by failing to set out a detailed long-term strategy the government was essentially pushing the problem out into the future, imperilling tomorrow’s generations who would have to bear the environmental consequences.

The Court determined that the legislation currently places too great a burden on younger generations regarding reduction of greenhouse emissions.  It stated that “future obligations to reduce emissions have an impact on practically every type of freedom because virtually all aspects of human life still involve the emission of greenhouse gases and are thus potentially threatened by drastic restrictions after 2030.” The Court considered that precautionary steps should have been taken to safeguard against breaches of fundamental rights.

The German legislature has until the end of 2022 to enact clearer reduction targets for the period after 2030.