Activists file lawsuit against German government’s climate policy

Young climate activists and environmental organizations have drafted a constitutional complaint against the climate policy of the German government and presented their so-called climate lawsuit in Berlin on Wednesday.

The complaint filed with Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court is intended to enforce more ambitious climate protection measures, climate activists and representatives of Greenpeace and Fridays for Future announced at a joint press conference.

Greenpeace stressed that the German government’s climate policy ignores the need to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases “as quickly as possible.” The aim of 55 percent emission reduction by 2030 as well as the measures adopted by the German government back in November were not enough, said the organization’s representative.

In her New Year speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that it was still possible to limit global warming but acknowledged that German society was divided on the government’s climate package.

For some Germans the adopted measures, such as carbon price on fossil fuels, might “cause fear,” while for others the climate package would still not be ambitious enough, said Merkel.

“With this too unambitious climate protection law, the state is not sufficiently fulfilling its duty to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens,” said Roda Verheyen, lawyer of the climate plaintiffs.

The climate activists argued that their right to a future as well as the right to life and physical integrity as set in Germany’s constitution were threatened by the government’s insufficient climate actions.

Co-complainant Luisa Neubauer of Fridays for Future Germany said at a press conference on Wednesday that “it is no longer just about future generations, for us it is about our generation, about our life.”

An online petition launched by the young climate activists calls on the German government to introduce a speed limit of 120 kilometers per hour on the country’s highways; end the “flood of plastic” by moving to reusable packaging; and shutting down coal-fired power plants without delay.

A similar legal complaint filed by three German farming families with the help of Greenpeace was rejected by the Berlin Administrative Court at first instance in October 2019.