Climate activists have filed lawsuits against the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing it of failing to take sufficient action to tackle climate change, which they say amounts to a violation of the constitutional right to "human dignity."
Environmental groups announced Wednesday they filed lawsuits against both the government and parliament at Germany’s highest court.
The German lower house of parliament last year approved a package of climate policy reforms that aims to help the country cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
Environmentalists have said the plan is insufficient. The activists say the country could do more to meet the 2030 target were it not for the government’s strong ties to the car industry, which provides about 800,000 jobs.
"This is no longer just about future generations. To us, this is about our generation, our lives and the fact that the non-action of the government terrorizes our freedom," said Luisa Neubauer, from the German chapter of the youth climate group ’Fridays for Future’, one of the plaintiffs.
"From today the question is whether the government’s non-action is compatible with the constitution. We are convinced it is not and that’s why we are suing," she added.
Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Environmental Action Germany and Germanwatch said they backed the lawsuits.
A dozen Bangladeshis and Nepalis, whose countries have been hard hit by global warming, filed one of the lawsuits.
Conservative lawmaker Jan-Marco Luczack dismissed the claims as a good "PR gag", saying courts had nothing to do with climate policy.
"It is the duty of politicians to weigh and make (climate) policy," he said in an interview with the Funke group of newspapers, adding "The Constitutional Court will not do the job of lawmakers."
"Climate protection is the protection of fundamental rights, particularly those of younger generations and inhabitants of most affected countries," Remo Klinger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, adding Germany should "make a contribution commensurate with its responsibility in terms of climate change."
Klinger called on the Federal Constitutional Court to "show the way to go".