Children and young people Domestic court Emissions reductions Germany Paris Agreement

Bundesverfassungsgericht, Order of 25 May 2022

On 24 June 2022 it was announced that the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht or BVerfG) had refused to hear a case following up on its groundbreaking Neubauer judgment of 24 March 2021. This follow-up litigation was brought by nine young people, who sought a further strengthening of German climate protection policy with the support of the NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe. The applicants, who were aged 13 to 26 at the time of filing, were previously involved in the Neubauer case, where the BVerfG found that German climate policy posed a threat to the fundamental freedoms of future generations. In this follow-up case, they sought a judgment from the BVerfG demanding faster and more effective climate protection measures.

Arguments made:
After the Neubauer judgment, the German government changed the German Federal Climate Change Act of 12 December 2019 (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz – KSG) governing national climate targets and the emissions allowed annually to provide for higher levels of mitigation action.

In this case, the applicants argue that the new version of the KSG still does not guarantee that Germany will meet its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and that it therefore does not ensure the limitation of anthropogenic climate change to the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5 degrees. The applicants argue that the revised KSG reduces emissions by only about 6.5 percent by 2030, and draw on IPCC reports showing that the 1.5-degree target could be exceeded in around ten years’ time.

The legal argumentation brought forward here was similar to that in Neubauer. The applicants argued that their fundamental freedoms are under threat, and invoked Article 20a of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz).

In an unreasoned decision, the BVerfG refused to accept this case for decision on 25 May 2022.

Application to the ECtHR:
Counsel in the case, together with the NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe, announced that they would take this case the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.

More information:
The decision has not yet been published. For reporting on the case, see LTO.

Suggested citation:
German Bundesverfassungsgericht, Judgment of the First Senate of 25 May 2022 – 1 BvR 188/22.

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