Judgment from Karlsruhe: “climate skeptics no longer have space”

Judgment from Karlsruhe
“Climate skeptics are no longer a field.”

Germany’s climate policy has been reviewed by nine young people by the Federal Constitutional Court – they criticize the climate protection law passed in 2019 for being inadequate. Today, a court in Karlsruhe obligated the federal government to regulate the transition to climate neutrality even after 2030. What exactly does this mean for Germany’s climate policy? Roda Verhein, attorney and climate protection advisor, supported and represented the plaintiffs. In an interview with ntv.de, she explains the impact of judgment.

Ntv.de: What are the referee’s key messages?

Verhein Kindergarten: This referee is very pioneering. It exceeds all expectations. The main message is that we are not allowed to release so much today that the future generations will have no room to develop their freedom, that is, their lives. On the basis of this principle of fairness, the Federal Constitutional Court declared parts of the Climate Protection Act illegal.

Judgment ruling that climate protection is a human right. What does that mean exactly?

Climate protection is a human right, because the impacts of climate change affect human rights in different ways. This was already determined by the Berlin Administrative Court when we filed a lawsuit to comply with climate targets by 2020. This is now confirmed with kettle horns and horns. It is absolutely indisputable: climate skeptics no longer have a place in Germany. In addition, the goals of climate and climate protection are no longer political issues. It is about protecting human rights, and this has increased pressure on the legislature to justify itself. From now on you say: “How do we achieve the reduction?” He no longer “Do we want it or do we have to?” Everything has been turned upside down. The effects of this will be felt for a very long time.

This is not the first time that a state court has held accountable the absence of climate targets. Just two months ago, a Paris court ruled that the French government’s climate protection measures were insufficient. Is there a difference between the two provisions?

This measure is definitely the most far-reaching. It contains very general phrases about immortality. Other lawsuits and court rulings in the Netherlands, France, or Ireland have been more limited – either related to a single climate target for 2020 or 2030 or to a specific law. The question here is what should the legislator as a whole do: What should be required according to the human rights standard? The Federal Constitutional Court took all the risks that were ever possible.

But aren’t the people who live today deprived of such laws?

This may assume that it is okay if the current generation does not have to restrict itself and that future generations should restrict themselves for this purpose. This is exactly what the Federal Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional. It is no longer just a matter of balancing what is important in the present. It is about following science and directing oneself towards what the world needs, and thus generations as well.

The legislature should improve now by the end of 2022. What should the government do until then?

The legislature should now consider the shape of the reduction path. He needs a goal, that is, to keep the temperature rise from 1.5 to less than 2 degrees. And he needs to know how to do that. It is no longer sufficient for a ministry to clarify these issues. These are fundamental issues for the protection of human rights and must therefore be regulated by the legislative body, the German Bundestag.

Are there specific points or laws that need improvement?

Specifically, the goals set out in the Federal Climate Protection Act are not sufficient. They need to be tightened up over the next ten years. Then coherent intermediate goals that lead to greenhouse gas neutrality must be established. Legislators can no longer just write the goals and not say how they want to achieve them. Here’s the important thing about this ruling: The legislature really has to describe how to get there. Do not leave it to the next legislative body and the next legislative period.

Will future governments face consequences if the measures are again inadequate?

In Germany it almost never occurred that the legislature did not comply with the rulings of the Federal Constitutional Court. I hope it stays that way. In fact, the legislature has a lot of leeway. He can choose measures, he can choose the concrete path, but he has to do it. He should do this with audience participation, too. The whole thing has to be actionable and decisive. This must be verified with the participation of all social actors. But we have to do that. Because we are facing a huge challenge and everyone needs to be involved

Clara Sushi spoke to Roda Fairhain.

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