Environmental Court Cases: Neubauer

Natural Justice have developed a series of summaries of significant court cases from across the world related to climate change and rights of nature. These are designed for the public, policy makers and practitioners and provide a snapshot of cases that are being brought to courts in order to advance the protection and rights of nature, including seeking ways to hold governments accountable for their international commitments to reducing carbon emissions.

Neubauer et al. v. Germany

A group of German youth filed a legal challenge to Germany’s Federal Climate Protection Act, arguing that the law’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels was insufficient and consequently violated their human rights as protected by Germany’s constitution. The applicants argued that the law’s 2030 target did not take into account either Germany or the EU’s obligation under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” level. The applicants argued that Germany would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030 (from 1990 levels) in order to meet its international obligations. The argued that the government’s failure to take adequate action on climate change violated multiple rights guaranteed to them by the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution, including the principle of human dignity, the right to life and physical integrity, and the natural foundations of life in responsibility for future generations. The applicants asked the Federal Constructional Court to declare the 55% reduction goal a violation of the Basic Law, require the legislature to issue new reduction quotas, and prohibit the transfer of emissions allocations under the new regulatory regime.

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