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Activists challenge Merkel on climate

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AFP – Environmental groups announced yesterday they had filed two lawsuits at Germany’s highest court accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had failed to protect basic rights through its weak climate protection law.

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Greenpeace together with German groups BUND and Deutsche Umwelthilfe filed the legal actions, which are also backed by Luisa Neubauer, a prominent activist of the Fridays for Future climate strike movement.

A dozen Bangladeshis and Nepalis, whose countries have been hard hit by global warming, also support the initiative.

“Climate protection is the protection of fundamental rights, particularly those of younger generations and inhabitants of most affected countries,” said Remo Klinger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Germany should “make a contribution commensurate with its responsibility in terms of climate change”, added Klinger, urging the Federal Constitutional Court to “show the way to go”.

The environmental groups had already backed three farmer families who took their case to a Berlin administrative court last year, but that case was struck down by the judge.

Undeterred, they have now turned to Germany’s highest court, evoking a decision of the Dutch supreme court, which in 2019 ordered the Dutch state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Merkel’s government last year agreed  a sweeping package of climate policy reforms estimated to cost $111 billion by 2030. With plans to make train travel cheaper and air travel more costly, the package is intended to help Europe’s largest economy slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. But climate activists argue that the plan is too weak to halt the planet from hurtling towards irreversible and devastating warming. After two blistering summers and the escalating Fridays for Future protests started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, climate has shot up to the top of Germany’s political agenda.

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