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German High Court Hands Youth a Victory in Climate Change Fight

The decision by the country’s Federal Constitutional Court came as a rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which drafted the law but only included detailed goals to reduce emissions through
The decision by the country’s Federal Constitutional Court came as a rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which drafted the law but only included detailed goals to reduce emissions through 2030. (Photo: Unsplash)
BERLIN — Germany’s highest court ordered the government to expand a 2019 law aimed at bringing the country’s carbon emissions down to nearly zero by 2050, ruling Thursday that the legislation did not go far enough to ensure that future generations would be protected.اضافة اعلان

The decision by the country’s Federal Constitutional Court came as a rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which drafted the law but only included detailed goals to reduce emissions through 2030.

“The appellants, some of whom are still very young, have had their liberties violated by the challenged provisions,” the ruling said, ordering the government to revise the law by the end of next year to clarify and specify targets that reach beyond 2030. “To preserve fundamental liberty, the legislature should have made provisions to mitigate this burden.”

The law under scrutiny in the court case aimed at meeting Germany’s carbon emission targets under the Paris Agreement, a pact by 189 countries to try to prevent the world’s temperature from rising. The German law included a raft of measures such as a $60 billion spending package, a fee system for carbon emissions, and taxes to make flying more expensive.

But the law only stipulated how reductions should be reached over the coming decade. Decisions about how and how much to reduce carbon emissions between 2031 to 2050 were left open, to be decided in 2025.

In their suit, the climate activists had charged that by failing to lay out a long-term strategy with clear targets for reductions through when Germany aims to be carbon-neutral, the government was effectively kicking the can down the road and risking the freedom of future generations, who would have to live with the consequences.

Young climate activists, nine of whom had challenged the law, welcomed the decision to side with their concerns that the failure to pass stringent enough legislation today will endanger their lives when they reach adulthood. The nine youths who were among those who brought the case ranged in age from 15-24.

Other activists also celebrated the court’s focus on the future as a watershed moment in the fight against climate change.
Christoph Bals, executive director of the Germanwatch environmental group, said, “This ruling will be a key reference point for all climate lawsuits pending around the world.”

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