On October 4, 2021, the plaintiffs Barbara Metz, Sascha Müller-Kraenner, and Jürgen Resch supported by environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH; Environmental Action Germany), filed an action against Wintershall Dea AG, a German gas and oil company. Plaintiffs asked the Regional Court of Kassel to order the company to tighten its carbon emissions target and to cease the extraction of natural gas and crude oil both nationally and internationally, both directly or indirectly (through shareholding or other means of corporate participation), by 2025.
The plaintiffs argue that the company’s (in)actions are causally responsible for interfering with and in violation of plaintiffs’ rights and freedoms by not adhering to a “fair” carbon budget. In Neubauer v. Germany, the German Constitutional Court accepted that Germany has a limited CO2 emissions budget remaining at its disposal. Alongside the Paris Agreement, these findings form the legal basis for the claim by Metz et al.
On the basis of the company’s calculated allocated carbon budget, plaintiffs submit that the company be asked to refrain from: (i) extracting natural gas and/or crude oil that emits more than 0.62 gigatons (Gt) CO2 (natural gas) or more than 0.31 Gt CO2 (crude oil) when burned (calculated as of January 1, 2021), unless the company can demonstrate GHG neutrality for the CO2 emissions in excess of this amount, and; (ii) opening new oil or gas fields, both nationally or internationally, after December 31, 2025; or (indirectly) participating in such openings through equity holdings in other companies.