BERLIN — Germany’s highest court ordered the government to expand a 2019 law aimed at bringing the country’s carbon emissions down to nearly zero by 2050, ruling on Thursday that the legislation did not go far enough to ensure that future generations would be protected.
The decision by the country’s Federal Constitutional Court came as a rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which drafted the law but only included detailed goals to reduce emissions through 2030.
“The appellants, some of whom are still very young, have had their liberties violated by the challenged provisions,” the ruling said, ordering the government to revise the law by the end of next year to clarify and specify targets that reach beyond 2030. “To preserve fundamental liberty, the legislature should have made provisions to mitigate this burden.”
The law under scrutiny in the court case aimed at meeting Germany’s carbon emission targets under the Paris Agreement, a pact by 189 countries to try to prevent the world’s temperature from rising. The German law included a raft of measures such as a $60 billion spending package, a fee system for carbon emissions and taxes to make flying more expensive.
an exchange over Twitter for failing to go far enough in the initial legislation.
“As I remember, it was you and your party that prevented in the first place what the Constitutional Court is now demanding,” Mr. Scholz said. “But we can fix that. Are you with us?”
But it was the Greens, an opposition party, that could benefit most from the ruling given its popularity among young people. The party has seen its support explode recently, with polls showing it in a neck-and-neck race for the lead alongside of the conservatives.
Annalena Baerbock, the Greens candidate for chancellor, welcomed the ruling as a “historic decision” and called for the law to be overhauled quickly.
“Climate protection protects our freedom and the freedom of our children and grandchildren,” she wrote on Twitter. “The coming years are decisive for consequent action.”