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Delaying Climate Action Harms Youth, German High Court Rules in 'Huge Win for the Climate Movement'

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Delaying Climate Action Harms Youth, German High Court Rules in 'Huge Win for the Climate Movement'
German climate activist from the Fridays for Future movement Luisa Neubauer, Swedish founder of the School Strike for Climate movement Greta Thunberg, and climate activists from Belgium Adelaide Charlier and Anuna de Wever cross a footbridge from Berlin's main railway station towards a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Aug. 20, 2020. TODD ANDERSEN / AFP via Getty Images

Germany's highest court ruled Thursday that the country's 2019 climate law unconstitutionally saddles young people with the burden of fighting climate change by "irreversibly offload[ing] major emission reductions burdens onto periods after 2030."


Olaf Scholz, Germany's finance minister, said the government would rapidly propose legislation to comply with the ruling. The case was brought by young people who argued the German plan to reach net-zero carbon pollution by 2050 backloaded too much of the required emissions cuts until after 2030.

"We are super happy with the court's decision," 22-year-old plaintiff Sophie Backsen, who fears sea level rise will engulf her family's farm, told reporters. "Effective climate protection has to be implemented now and not in 10 years' time, when it'll be too late."

As reported by The Guardian:

One of the complainants, Luisa Neubauer, an activist from Fridays for Future, welcomed the ruling, saying: "This is huge. Climate protection is not nice to have; climate protection is our basic right and that's official now. This is a huge win for the climate movement, it changes a lot."

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Neubauer said the climate lobby's success at Karlsruhe was only the beginning, emphasising that the five months leading up to the federal elections in September, in which the pro-environmental Greens have a good chance of entering government, would be crucial.
"We will continue to fight for a 1.5 degree policy which protects our future freedoms, instead of endangering them," she said, adding, "gone are the days when we were called ignorant for demanding climate action."

For a deeper dive:

Reuters, The Guardian, AP, New York Times, The Hill, BBC, NPR, Fortune, Politico EU; Government response: Reuters

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