German Government Must Amend Climate Plan, Court Rules

A major state-supported environmental group won a suit against the German government, which will have to improve its climate protection plan after the court found it insufficient to achieve the country’s climate goals.

DUH (Deutsche Umwelthilfe, or Environmental Action Germany) won its case against the German  government in the higher administrative court of Berlin-Brandenburg in the German capital on Thursday. 

The court’s ruling upholds lawsuits brought by Environmental Action Germany alleging that current federal measures to reduce CO2 emissions  in various sectors are insufficient, and will fall short of the government’s own legally binding targets for the coming years. 

Members of the DUH protested outside of the court building, holding banners and pictures of government members. DUH said the placards were a selection of quotes from concerned members or members of the public.

“Numerous people voiced support for the lawsuit ahead of time and demanded sufficient climate protection measures. We are taking all of their statements with us, both outside and inside the court,” the group said online. 

What was the case about relating to the German government?

DUH sued for a sufficient climate protection program in the areas of industry, traffic, energy, economics, building and agriculture.

In a second lawsuit, they demanded the government to meet climate goals in the sector of land use. 

The lawsuits were based on the German government targets for CO2 emissions with a 2030 deadline, for the most part, which another German court ruled in an earlier case are legally binding. 

The law’s overall target is to reduce total CO2 emmissions by at least 65% by 2030, compared to the 1990 baseline. In 2023, the figure was 46% lower than in 1990, but some experts question whether the remaining gains can or will be made in time.

The government is in the process of trying to amend the existing law in such a way that it could render this trial irrelevant. However, the court said that, at present, these efforts were not relevant to the case and the existing laws remained valid.

The federal government can appeal to the Federal Administrative Court, thereby postponing the judgment.

What does DUH suggest to further reduce CO2?

DUH views the government measures as too vaguely formulated, according to one of their lawyers, and demands a revision. 

“Instead of always just talking about climate protection, we need concrete, feasible and rapidly-implementable measures,” DUH boss Jürgen Resch told German news agency DPA on Thursday. 

In terms of concrete changes, he said that his group recommends a 100-kilometer per hour (roughly 62 miles per hour) speed limit everywhere on Germany’s autobahn highway network, which famously has no speed limits in some places, and lower limits on rural and urban roads as well. It also recommends scrapping subsidies for fuel-inefficient company cars. 

In the construction sector Environmental Action Germany wants environmentally conscious renovation of public buildings such as schools, likely indicating issues like improved insulation.

A legal representative of the federal government had argued that DUH’s lawsuit risked confusing a “political program” with a “concrete plan.” 

In November 2023, a German court ruled that the federal government had failed to achieve climate goals  in the transportation and building sectors, siding with climate protection groups. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *