Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the country’s 2019 climate protection law, which sets out emissions cuts over the next decade and beyond, was partly “unconstitutional” because it shifted the climate burden of making painful reductions to future generations. The decision requires the government to further detail emission reduction targets after 2030 by the end of next year.
The complaint was filed by a group of nine mostly young people. They are supported by several environmental associations, including Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Fridays for Future. They have criticized the law, saying it does not go far enough to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change. They argue that because the law will not limit climate change, it violates their fundamental right to a humane future. The court has now obligated the legislature to find a balance between freedom for all and burdens faced by some.
The court ruled that the law wasn’t in line with constitutional rights because “sufficient measures for further emission reductions after 2031 are missing,” which puts an improper burden on people after 2030.
It found the 2019 law violated their right to freedom because it “postponed high emission reduction burdens irreversibly to the period after 2030” to meet the obligations under the Paris Agreement. The court ruled that necessary and drastic future emissions cuts would “potentially affect any freedom because nearly all areas of human life are connected to emissions, and as such threatened drastic limitations [to their freedom] after 2030.”
The law for the first time set binding emissions reduction targets for the next decade, setting out annual carbon budgets for the energy, industry, transport, building and agriculture sectors.