Berlin, Germany – After a five-hour hearing today, the Berlin Administrative Court decided that a complaint seeking more climate protection is admissible in principle, but dismissed the lawsuit considering that fundamental rights of three farming families are not yet compromised. This means claims about violations of fundamental rights could become the basis of future lawsuits seeking climate protection.

The 13 plaintiffs, including members of the farming families and Greenpeace Germany, may opt to appeal the decision after receiving a written judgement. 

Lawyer for the plaintiffs, Dr. Roda Verheyen, said: “For the first time in history, a German court has ruled that people’s fundamental rights can be violated by the impacts of global heating. The court did not recognise a particular violation today, but that is not out of the question in the future. The message is clear: climate protection means protection of fundamental rights. German climate policies must observe that principle.”

The German government had originally requested to reject the complaint, alleging that climate protection was a political mandate and fundamental rights could never be violated by global warming. The court disagreed with this argument, but decided there was no evidence to show that meeting the 2020 German climate target is absolutely necessary at this point. The judges asked the plaintiffs and their supporters to understand that the court must allow the government room to manoeuvre until the deadline. 

More than 100 people gathered outside the courthouse in Berlin for a peaceful demonstration in support of the plaintiffs during the hearing. About 50 travelled by bus from the North Sea island of Pellworm and Brandenburg farmers came with tractors, to show solidarity with the farming families. Greenpeace Germany volunteers also delivered a petition, signed by 134,867 supporters of the climate case to the Federal Chancellery. 

Greenpeace Germany climate expert, Anike Peters, said: “The court has confirmed two things: Climate cases are generally admissible and climate protection means protection of fundamental rights. We will now examine possible next steps for our claims. We believe that the court has fallen short of its potential today.”

Plaintiff and organic farmer from the island of Pellworm, Silke Backsen, said: “I am disappointed by this half-hearted decision. The court has not done what is good for our future.

This ruling does not save a single tonne of CO2. We are already significantly affected by the climate crisis. How bad does it have to get?”

ENDS

Contacts:

Greenpeace Germany climate expert Lisa Göldner: lisa.goeldner@greenpeace.org, +49 151-116 336 74

Greenpeace Germany press officer Tina Löffelbein : tina.loeffelbein@greenpeace.org, +49 151-167 209 15

Greenpeace Germany press officer Frank Rosin: frank.rosin@greenpeace.org, +49 170-734 12 08

Greenpeace Germany photos editor Sonja Umhang: sonja.umhang@greenpeace.org, +49 151-14076819