In February 2020, a group of German youth filed a legal challenge to Germany's Federal Climate Protection Act (“Bundesklimaschutzgesetz” or “KSG”), arguing that the KSG's target of reducing GHGs 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels was insufficient. The complainants further allege that the KSG therefore violates their human rights as protected by the Basic Law, Germany's constitution.
The complaint alleges that the KSG's 2030 target does not take into account Germany's and the EU's obligation under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to "well below 2 degrees Celsius." The complainants argue that in order to "do its part" to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, Germany would need to reduce GHGs by 70% from 1990 levels by 2030. Their claims principally arise out of the principle of human dignity allegedly enshrined in Article 1 of the Basic Law; Article 2 of the Basic Law, which protects the right to life and physical integrity; and Article 20a of the Basic Law, which protects the natural foundations of life in responsibility for future generations. Complainants argue that by requiring insufficient GHG cuts and allowing for the transfer of emission allocations, the KSG allows climate impacts that violate these human rights.
The complaint asks the Federal Constitutional Court to declare that the legislature has violated the Basic Law by requiring only a 55% reduction in GHGs by 2030; declare that the legislature is required to issue new reduction quotas to ensure that Germany's emissions are kept as low as possible, taking into account the principle of proportionality; and prohibit the transfer of emissions allocations in the new regulatory regime.