17 May 2024, 12:33
Julian Wettengel

Court requires German government to improve climate plans as law reform gets green light

Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung

A German court has ruled that the country's government must improve its climate policy plans to reach the 2030 emissions reduction target, as well as stay in line with the emissions limits for each sector. The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg said that the government's climate action programme 2023, which it presented in autumn last year, was insufficient. "The government must ensure that all measures in the climate action programme are suitable to achieve the climate protection targets (...) and comply with the annual emission levels," said judge Ariane Holle, according to an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The court also found that the 2023 programme "suffers from methodological flaws and is partly based on unrealistic assumptions," said a press release. The government can appeal the ruling to the case, which had been brought by environmental NGO DUH.

The government itself had said that even if the programme were fully implemented, Germany would still fail its targets and emit a total of 200 million tonnes of CO2 more than planned until the end of the decade. While more recent projections say this would no longer be the case, these still foresee a slight target miss regarding plans to reduce emissions by 65 percent by the year 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The government has already appealed a ruling from last year, which required it to present emergency climate measures after failing emissions reduction targets in the transport and building sectors.

The German council of state governments (Bundesrat), meanwhile, gave the final green light for a contentious reform of the country's climate law, which weakens the responsibility of individual ministries for emission cuts in their sectors by focusing exclusively on the country’s overall ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It remains to be seen whether this could influence a possible appeal by the government, as emissions projections for the future will now be the guiding input to decide whether the government must present additional climate measures – and current projections see Germany largely on track. NGO DUH said the court ruling would not be rendered moot by the reform, adding that the court would then have to perform a judicial review of the projected figures.

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