Press Release | 29 April 2021

Historic win for climate constitutional complaint

Federal Constitutional Court of Germany declares Federal Climate Protection Act partially unconstitutional and strengthens protection of fundamental rights of the youth.
Pressemitteilung

Joint press release Germanwatch / Greenpeace Germany / Protect the Planet

Berlin 29.4.2021- In its decision today, the Federal Constitutional Court has largely accepted the constitutional complaint of nine young people for a humane future: Freedoms and fundamental rights are already being violated today by insufficient climate protection. The legislator must adapt the Federal Climate Protection Act by the end of 2022.

Lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg), who represents the young people, comments on the decision: "Today, the Federal Constitutional Court has set a globally remarkable new standard for climate protection as a human right. It has recognised the extreme climate crisis and interpreted fundamental rights in a way that is just for present and future generations. Legislators now have a mandate to define a coherent reduction path to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality. Waiting and delaying radical emission reductions until later is  unconstitutional. Climate action today must ensure that there is still room for future generations."

Sophie Backsen, one of the young complainants, is already experiencing the consequences of the climate crisis on her home island of Pellworm: "The Court's decision is a huge success for us young people who are already affected by the climate crisis - I am very happy! It has become clear that essential parts of the Federal Climate Protection Act are not compatible with our fundamental rights. Effective climate protection must start and be implemented now - not in ten years. This is the only way to secure my future on my home island. The decision gives me a tailwind to keep fighting. "

Luisa Neubauer from Fridays for Future is also a complainant: "Climate protection is not nice-to-have,  fair climate protection is a fundamental right, that is now official. A huge success - for everyone and especially for us young people who have been on climate strike for their future for over two years. We will now continue to fight for a 1.5 degree policy that is fair to all generations."

More and more people, particularly those most impacted by climate change, are using the law to protect their rights from the climate crisis. This ruling becomes another important reference point for all climate lawsuits pending around the world.

The total of four constitutional complaints are addressing the German Federal Climate Protection Act, which was passed in 2019. The plaintiffs are young people and adults from Germany and abroad. They are supported by Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and the Solarenergie-Förderverein, by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) as well as by Greenpeace Germany, Germanwatch and Protect the Planet. In the constitutional complaints, the plaintiffs  argue that the goals and measures of the Federal Climate Protection Act are not sufficient to effectively protect their fundamental rights from the consequences of the climate crisis as well as to fulfil the government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. A lawsuit before the Berlin Administrative Court preceded this - and provided important foundations for today's ruling.

 

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