German Climate Law is partly Unconstitutional

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It was ruled by the Germany’s Constitutional Court in April 2021 that the country’s 2019 climate protection act is partly unconstitutional. The regulations irrevocably defers high emission reduction burdens to periods after 2030, the court said. It was added by the Court  that the law did not explain in sufficient detail how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after 2031. The judges provided the legislature until the finish of succeeding year to set clearer greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the post-2030 period.

The complaint was lodged by a group of nine, largely the young people. They are supported by various environmental associations with an inclusion of Fridays for Future and BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany).

They condemned the law, saying it does not go far enough to reasonably decrease the greenhouse gas emissions and restrict climate change. They, further contended that since the law will not restrict changes to climate, so it breaches their fundamental right to a human future.

The court has now forced the legislature to strike a balance between liberty for all and the burdens suffered by few of them.

Peter Dabrock, the former chairperson of the German Ethics Council, told DW that the elderly, at least those who are worried about the welfare of their children and their children’s children, should welcome this decision. He added that the ruling sends a very powerful signal, quoting the philosopher Immanuel Kant that the liberty of an individual stops where the freedom of others begins. This principle now has an intergenerational perspective.

As a decision of the Constitutional Court, it is as surprising as it is late, underlined the expert in ethics. The disputed provisions violate the liberty of complainants, some of whom are still very young, the court said in a statement. Further, observed by court that Virtually all the liberties are possibly affected by these commitments of reducing future emission, since nearly all the areas of human life are still linked with greenhouse gas emissions and hence, endangered by dire restrictions after 2030.

German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier responded to the verdict, saying it was both big and meaningful. He added it was crucial for climate protection and the privileges of young people as well as confirming the planning security for an economy.