German govt loses key climate court case
A Berlin court on Thursday ruled that the German government had failed to put forward sufficiently effective measures to meet its own climate goals in the transport and building sectors.
A day before Chancellor Olaf Scholz was due to travel to the COP28 UN climate summit in Dubai, the judges said in their ruling that Berlin must adopt an “immediate programme” to reduce emissions.
The case brought by the BUND environmentalist organisation had accused the government of not doing enough to get back on track after missing emissions targets for transport and building in 2021.
In that year, the transport sector overshot its CO2 emissions target by 3.1 million tonnes, according to BUND. In the building sector, the equivalent figure was 2.5 million tonnes.
Officials presented a roadmap to reduce emissions in the two sectors, but the package of measures “does not meet the requirements”, the judges said on Thursday.
Stefanie Langkamp, a spokeswoman for the Climate Alliance Germany network, said the verdict was a “severe reprimand” for the government.
“It is internationally embarrassing and damaging that a court judgement is needed because the German government is not complying” with its own climate laws, she said.
Environmental groups have been turning to courts to force the government to take more action to curb global warming.
In a ground-breaking case, Germany’s constitutional court ruled in 2021 that the government’s climate plans were insufficient and placed an unfair burden on future generations.
In response, the government led by then-chancellor Angela Merkel tightened the timeline of plans to slash emissions and brought forward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by five years to 2045.
Germany missed its total CO2-reduction goal in 2022 by around five million tonnes, according to the energy think tank Agora Energiewende.
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