Overline: Lecture
Headline: Neubauer et al. versus Germany: Planetary Climate Litigation for the Anthropocene?

Opening lecture of the IASS Focal Topic Year on “justice in sustainability”

The recent decision by the German Constitutional Court in Neubauer et al. versus Germany has been attracting considerable attention around the globe. The Court ordered the German legislature to correct and significantly tighten up existing climate law provisions, to increase the ambition of these provisions, and to strengthen future mitigation pathways. Several commentators have hailed it as an example of what is possible when the judiciary steps in to fill gaps in global climate governance as a result of governments failing to act or acting inadequately. In this talk, Louis Kotzé explores the extent to which the Court in Karlsruhe has innovatively managed to embrace a holistic planetary view of climate science, climate change impacts, planetary justice, planetary stewardship, earth system vulnerability, and global climate law, within the context of a human-dominated geological epoch, to guide its reasoning and findings. His proposal is that courts will have to increasingly follow a planetary perspective that is grounded in the Anthropocene context when adjudicating matters related to global disruptors such as climate change. This decision offers a first, and important, example of a promising new paradigm that he terms planetary climate litigation.

Louis Kotzé is Research Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, North-West University, South Africa where he teaches International and African Regional Environmental Law in the structured LLM programme. He is also Senior Professorial Fellow in Earth System Law at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom. His research broadly encompasses three interrelated themes that he approaches from a transnational perspective: human rights, socio-ecological justice and environmental constitutionalism; law and the Anthropocene; and Earth system law. He has over 160 publications on these themes.

Louis Kotzé will be joined by Jannis Krüßmann (20), a German law student who has filed a constitutional claim against the state of North Rhine-Westfalia (NRW), citing the inadequacy of existing climate legislation. The four plaintiffs are calling on the state legislature to set a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the remaining carbon budget and to adopt the instruments necessary to achieve and verify progress towards this goal. Krüßmann will outline the amendments made to the North Rhine-Westfalia Climate Protection Act in response to the Constitutional Court’s decision and explain why he and his co-plaintiffs believe that the Act is still in breach of the German constitution. He will conclude with some personal remarks on the role that climate litigation plays for the younger generation of German climate activists.

27 January, 2022, 5 p.m. CET

Registration link: https://eveeno.com/planetaryjustice

Publication: Kotzé, L. J.: Neubauer et al. versus Germany: Planetary Climate Litigation for the Anthropocene?, German Law Journal, Volume 22 , Issue 8 , December 2021, pp. 1423 - 1444
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/glj.2021.87