PIK STATEMENT on the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the German climate protection law

04/29/2021 - In a ruling today, the Federal Constitutional Court obliged the German government to define more precisely the reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the period after 2030. Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change comments:
PIK STATEMENT on the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the German climate protection law
Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Germany (Photo: Guido Radig, CC BY-SA 3.0)

"The ruling is important because it strengthens the rights of future generations to a safe environment and obligates policymakers to a long-term commitment. It confirms in legal terms what research has been saying for quite some time: first, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels threaten our children's rights, their freedom and security. Second, we must not postpone the transition to clean energy into the future, but start quickly and then keep on going permanently. And third, we need concrete measures instead of ever more ambitious targets that eventually are not met. Economically speaking, it will also be more expensive the longer we wait.

However, the ruling does not oblige German policymakers to set more ambitious climate targets; they simply have to set out the measures they will use to achieve them. German emissions will have to fall more sharply not because of this ruling, but because of the European Union's tightening of targets. A second emissions trading scheme for transport and heat at EU level will enable a credible path to greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, giving companies the planning certainty they need to invest in clean innovations. They now see even more clearly the risks, including legal risks, of climate-damaging business practices. But climate change is not destiny, it is a mandate to act."     

Read the press release by the Federal Constitutional Court:

Constitutional complaints against the Federal Climate Change Act partially successful


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