Environmentalists file suit against Merkel’s ‘weak’ climate laws

 January 16, 2020

Lawyer Remo Klinger (C) speaks during a press conference organised by Greenpeace and other NGOs about climate lawsuit against German government on January 15 in Berlin. — AFP
Lawyer Remo Klinger (C) speaks during a press conference organised by Greenpeace and other NGOs about climate lawsuit against German government on January 15 in Berlin. — AFP

BERLIN: Environmental groups announced on Wednesday they had filed lawsuits at Germany’s highest court accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government of failing to protect basic rights through its weak climate protection law.

Greenpeace together with German groups BUND and Deutsche Umwe­lthilfe filed the legal actions, which are also backed by Luisa Neubauer, a prominent activist of the Fridays for Future climate strike movement.

A dozen Bangladeshis and Nepalis, whose countries have been hard hit by global warming, also joined the initiative.

“Climate protection is the protection of fundamental rights, particularly those of younger generations and inhabitants of most affected countries,” said Remo Klinger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Germany should “make a contribution commensurate with its responsibility in terms of climate change”, added Klinger, urging the Federal Constitutional Court to “show the way to go”.

Last year, the environmental groups backed three farmer families who took their case to a Berlin administrative court, but that case was struck down by the judge. Undeterred, they have now turned to Germany’s highest court, evoking a decision of the Dutch supreme court, which in 2019 ordered the Dutch state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Merkel’s government last year agreed on a sweeping package of climate policy reforms that are estimated to cost 100 billion euros by 2030.

With plans to make train travel cheaper and air travel more costly, the package is intended to help Europe’s largest economy slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In her New Year’s address, Merkel addressed the environmental challenge. “Global warming and the crises that arise from it are caused by human activity. This means that we must do everything humanly possible to meet this human challenge,” she said.

On Wednesday, German ministers agreed to back an action plan with investments of 3.6 billion euros to help sustainable resources replace material of fossil origin in everyday projects.

The ongoing climate debate has exposed a deep rift in Germany. Tens of thousands of workers in the country are dependent on the vital car industry. Coal mining is also still a key employer in many parts of eastern states

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