Merkel’s Would-Be Heir Faces Lawsuit Over State Climate Policies

Armin Laschet’s administration in North Rhine-Westphalia was sued over claims it’s failing to do enough to combat climate change, a test of the environmental credentials of the front-runner to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor.

The case brought by two juveniles and two young adults is one of a series of suits against three German states and backed by environmental group DUH. Laschet’s government watered down a climate law last week by removing nearly all instruments that had a clear deadline and would ensure targets are met, Remo Klinger, a lawyer for DUH, told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Laschet, the conservative bloc’s candidate for chancellor, is the favorite to lead Europe’s largest economy after the September election. While the Greens have slumped recently in the polls following a series of setbacks for their candidate, Annalena Baerbock, the party is still likely to play a role in the next coalition amid widespread concern in Germany about the environment.

Merkel’s Would-Be Heir Faces Lawsuit Over State Climate Policies

The suits, which also target Bavaria and Brandenburg, are relying on a landmark March ruling. Germany’s highest court determined the federal government was putting young generations at risk by delaying the bulk of planned cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions to after 2030, prompting an overhaul of the law to accelerate measures.

DUH said these constitutional requirements also apply to the states under Germany’s federal system. A ruling is expected next year at the earliest.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit against North Rhine-Westphalia -- Germany’s most populous state -- is law student Jannis Kruessmann, an activist in the Fridays for Future movement.

“If all goes well, I have some 70 or 80 years ahead of me,” the 19-year-old said. “But I see this future with horror when I’m looking at the climate crisis.”

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