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Germany unveils more ambitious carbon emission reduction plan after court ruling

Germany unveils more ambitious carbon emission reduction plan after court ruling
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German officials announced a higher target for carbon emission reductions Wednesday after a constitutional court ruled a 2019 emissions law was inefficient.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government will now target a reduction of 65 percent by the end of the decade and 88 percent by 2040, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said, according to Reuters. The government has also moved up its target for nearly net-zero emissions five years, from 2050 to 2045.

The 2019 emissions law at issue set a target of cutting emissions 55 percent by 2019 compared to 1990 levels. However, last week Germany’s highest court ruled the law must be updated, saying it does not properly address reductions beyond the end of the decade and passes the burden onto younger generations. Plaintiffs in the case included a young woman who cited rising sea levels as an imminent threat to her family home in the island of Pellworm in the North Sea.

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"The challenged provisions do violate the freedoms of the complainants, some of whom are still very young," Reuters reported the court said. "The provisions irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030."

Environmental Minister Svenja Schulze said Wednesday that under the new targets, the country’s emissions would be reduced a further 12 points in the 2040s. The alterations must be formally approved by Merkel’s Cabinet, which Scholz and Schulze said is scheduled to take place next week.

"That is a fair offer for the younger generations in that we are not leaving the biggest burden for the future," Schulze reportedly said. "Each decade, each generation takes responsibility."

The ruling came during a period where Germany’s Green Party has seen surging polls ahead of September elections. Merkel, who leads a coalition government of her Christian Democratic Union party and the Social Democrats, is not seeking re-election.

Germany ranks sixth among nations for total carbon emissions based on 2018 data, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.