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30 Apr 2021, 14:03
Charlotte Nijhuis

German climate court ruling to have major impact – media commentators

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's Constitutional Court ruling that the government’s climate policies are insufficient will have a major impact on the country's election campaign and beyond, media commentators say. “The political impact of the ruling is likely to be enormous,” writes Jakob Schlandt in Der Tagesspiegel. “The judges leave no doubt at all that there is a robust, actionable scientific consensus on man-made climate change,” which results in an obligation for politicians to act, Schlandt writes. In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Wolfgang Janisch writes that politicians can no longer postpone decisions regarding climate protection. “The defense of fundamental rights against climate protection failures [..] must begin today,” Janisch writes.

In a commentary in Focus Online, Ulrich Reitz says the ruling paves the way for Green Party politician Annalena Baerbock to possibly become the next German chancellor. “The Greens can now make climate policy the benchmark for all legislative interventions,” Reitz writes, and warns of “climate absolutism” that will restrict people’s fundamental rights in a similar way to the coronavirus policies. In Die Welt, Daniel Wetzel argues that the judicial belief that the next generation will be more heavily burdened by climate change is “highly questionable” and not scientifically supported. Clean energy technologies are making rapid progress and their costs are falling, he says, meaning “climate protection will likely be cheaper and easier for the next generation.”

The ruling was also widely covered in international media. The New York Times headlined that the court "hands youth a victory in climate change fight," and correspondent Melissa Eddy characterized the decision as a reprimand of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Reporting for Bloomberg, Karin Matussek and Stefan Nicola called the court's decision a "stinging setback" for Merkel's conservatives, saying that it "set off a blame game" in the bloc. Frank Jordans said in an AP report the ruling was groundbreaking because of the court's verdict that the burden of fighting the climate crisis must be shared between younger and older generations.

Stéphane Roland underlined in the French Liberatión how unexpected the ruling was, and that all leading politicians welcomed the court's decision. Mentioning implications beyond Germany in Spanish El Mundo, Carlos Fresneda said the ruling can "open the gates to a possible chain of lawsuits for more ambitious climate change goals in other European courts."

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