01 Feb 2022, 13:27
Kerstine Appunn

Constitutional court declines to accept climate cases against state legislatures

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has declined to accept eleven constitutional complaints directed against existing state climate action laws and the lack of CO2 reduction paths in some state legislation. The plaintiffs, mainly minors and young adults, claimed that their future freedom is impeded because enormous CO2 reductions would need to be undertaken by their generation if the state legislators don’t take the necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gases now. This reasoning of insufficient CO2 reductions impacting young peoples’ fundamental right to freedom had generally been established by the court in its April 2021 decision that ruled parts of the federal Climate Action Law unconstitutional. However, in the case of the state climate laws, the court said that the state legislators are not subject to an even “roughly identifiable” budget of total CO2 emissions that could be derived from constitutional or federal law. 

The constitutional complaints filed by young people from ten German states were supported and financed by Environmental Action Germany (DUH). The DUH said that the constitutional court advised in its ruling that the federal government and the states should cooperate more to reach their climate protection obligations.

In an unexpected decision widely hailed as historic, Germany's highest court ruled last year that the government's climate legislation was insufficient, lacking detail on emission reduction targets beyond 2030. Shortly after the ruling, the government amended the Climate Action Law, pulling forward its target date for climate neutrality by five years to 2045.

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