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BVerfG rules partly in favour of young climate activists


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Constitutional complaints against the Federal Climate Change Act partially successful

Press Release No. 31/2021 of 29 April 2021


In an order published today, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court held that the provisions of the Federal Climate Change Act of 12 December 2019 (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz – KSG) governing national climate targets and the annual emission amounts allowed until 2030 are incompatible with fundamental rights insofar as they lack sufficient specifications for further emission reductions from 2031 on-wards.


a) According to this requirement, one generation must not be allowed to consume large portions of the CO2 budget while bearing a relatively minor share of the reduction effort if this would involve leaving subsequent generations with a drastic reduction burden and expose their lives to comprehensive losses of freedom. At some point in the future, even serious losses of freedom may be deemed proportionate and justified under constitutional law in order to prevent climate change. This is precisely what gives rise to the risk of having to accept considerable losses of freedom. However, since the current provisions on allowable emission amounts have now already established a path to future burdens on freedom, the impacts on future freedom must be proportionate from today’s perspective. Furthermore, the objective duty of protection arising from Art. 20a GG encompasses the necessity to treat the natural foundations of life with such care and to leave them in such condition that future generations who wish to continue preserving these foundations are not forced to engage in radical abstinence.

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