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Germany brings climate targets forward after court rebuke

Source: 
The National

Around $3.5 trillion is required between now and 2050 to meet targets for a “sustainable path,” according to the International Energy Agency. AP

The Suweida makeshift camp for internally displaced people in Yemen’s Marib province in September. The effects of climate change have exacerbated the displacement of local populations over the course of the country’s ongoing war. AFP

A firefighter monitors a controlled burn while fighting the Dolan Fire near Jolon, California, in September. The wildfire was an indication of climate change further getting out of control according to environmentalists. Photographer: Nic Coury/Bloomberg

The Bobcat Fire burns through the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, north of Azusa, California. AFP

Some countries are using the coronavirus pandemic to wind back climate change commitments. Getty Images

Ruling coalition pledges faster cuts to emission levels

Wind turbines near a coal-fired power station in Garzweiler, western Germany. AFP

Germany is setting new climate change targets for cutting emissions after a court ruled its current goals contravene the rights of children and young adults.

Ministers now want to bring forward the country’s switch to climate neutrality – or net-zero carbon emissions – by five years to 2045.

Berlin announced the move on Wednesday after the country’s constitutional court deemed a flagship climate protection law “insufficient”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party and its centre-left coalition partner the SPD are lagging behind the Greens in popularity surveys.

“We want to make our goals more precise,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.

The court ruled last Thursday that German emissions targets did not set a clear enough timeline for emissions reductions beyond 2030.

Current measures could “irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens” on to the period after 2030, thereby impeding the freedom of future generations, it said.

It demanded that the government set annual emission targets for the period after 2030 in an improved plan to be put forward by December next year.

The government now aims to reduce emissions to 65 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030 and 88 per cent by 2040.

“Young people have reminded us that we are going too slowly rather than too quickly,” Mrs Merkel said.

She said the constitutional court ruling made clear that “you can’t just have freedoms for the generations alive today, you must also think about the freedoms of future generations”.

“This is a new legal perspective that could have many consequences and impresses upon us that we must do more.”

With the general election imminent, in September, the government is under pressure to show it takes environmental issues seriously.

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