The German Constitutional Court’s decision on climate policy is presumptuous and far removed from reality. But conservatives and liberals alike are applauding it, and for good reason: Fear of global conflagration opens up an inexhaustible source of money. And the citizens pay the obolus for their sinful life in prosperity without complaint.
Two percent! That is Germany’s share of global CO₂ emissions. And the trend is downward. Baden-Württemberg—which under the strengthened Green government wants to single-handedly save the global climate and is willing to go “to the limits of what is constitutionally possible” in order to do so—is unlikely to contribute half a percent. Austria’s share is also of a similarly limited magnitude. The bitcoin mines in China and Iran can easily manage the same amount in a few months, because their enormous hunger for electricity, needed to “create” the cryptocurrency, is fed by dirty coal or heavy oil. It already requires the electricity needs of countries like Italy or the Netherlands. The trend is increasing as sharply as the price of bitcoin, which has now shot up to around $50,000.
Every year, a complicated pay-as-you-go system funnels around 26 billion euros into the pockets of those who can afford high-yield wind farms and solar plantations, or investments in “green energy.”
While China’s communist leadership boasts at international conferences that it is a protector of the climate, at home they are putting fifty new coal-fired power plants into operation every year. The Middle Kingdom, which has risen to become the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, and is increasingly governed by authoritarian rule, consumes 51.7 percent (2019) of the world’s coal. It has increased its energy consumption twelvefold since 1970 and is now by far the largest emitter of CO₂ (10.4 billion tons). Meanwhile, Germany, which has reduced its carbon emissions by 29 percent since 1990, bucking the global trend, is shutting down even the most environmentally friendly power plants. Instead, the country is scrambling from one threatening blackout to the next with high subsidies and shaky power. This carelessness also endangers freedom—and lives.
Planned Climate Policy as an Inexhaustible Source of Money
There are plenty of credible studies that give the German energy turnaround a damning report card: At 30 cents per kilowatt hour, private customers pay the highest electricity price. The 17 cents per kilowatt hour for industry also place a disproportionate burden on the business sector, and is already leading to a migration of energy-intensive production. Every year, a complicated pay-as-you-go system funnels around 26 billion euros into the pockets of those who can afford high-yield wind farms and solar plantations, or investments in “green energy.”
But from an ecological standpoint, this gigantic bottom-up redistribution remains largely ineffective. This is because the CO₂ ‘rights’ allow other countries to consume what the self-proclaimed “pioneer Germany” saves. Eastern European countries are the main beneficiary in the EU, as the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) calculates. The winner would be Poland, which is already one of the biggest beneficiaries of Brussels’ redistribution machinery, and whose national-conservative government thanks it for its disdain for the European canon of basic values.
In political terms, these are fairy-tale conditions: Gold can literally be spun out of a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere.
Although the price of such ‘pollution rights’ has increased tenfold since 2018, this is not enough for the Greens: The Berlin government party-to-be wants to drive up the price from today’s 25 euros per ton of CO₂ to 180 euros by 2025. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Left Party are thinking along similar lines. And even the Christian Democratic/Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are backing this supposed market control. In this way, the fear of climate destruction not only limits civil liberties, but also funnels many billions into the state coffers. This explains the broad political acceptance: this form of planned climate policy becomes an inexhaustible source of money. In political terms, these are fairy-tale conditions: Gold can literally be spun out of a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere.
And the good thing about it is that—like in the Middle Ages—people are only too happy to let themselves be fleeced, so to speak, as atonement for the sinful life of an excessive CO₂ footprint. The fact that the rising price of carbon dioxide ultimately drives up all costs associated with energy is also accepted because this inflation is gradual. The decision-makers in particular, who are allowed to use official limousines free of charge and live well on tax money in the sprawling civil service sector, hardly feel the financial burden. Judges are among such privileged people.
The German Constitutional Court as Climate Politician in Chief
This information is readily available to those who do not insist on getting all of their information from the climate doomsayers. A little newspaper reading and percentage calculation would be enough to recognize Germany’s limited ability to limit global warming. Even if you take the per capita carbon dioxide consumption as a basis, which is significantly higher in industrialized countries, you will quickly realize that the world will not be saved by the German climate system even if the Federal Republic were to shut down all production overnight and put itself into a total lockdown. But even the highest German court seems to be overstrained with this relatively simple observation.
Instead, Greta & Co. have apparently taken command in Karlsruhe. This criticism of the German Constitutional Court is not disrespectful. On the contrary, it cannot be loud enough—and after an initial wave of shock, it is now also being voiced (in a somewhat more cryptic manner) by renowned jurists. Indeed, this decision is quixotic and arrogant. Everyone should read it. Freely, in the spirit of Greta Thunberg we want to exclaim: How dare you, Karlsruhe?!
The decision bolsters all those who want to use climate protection for their fight against capitalism in order to restrict freedoms protected by basic rights.
What right has Germany’s highest court to act like a politician-in-chief and make possible climate risks the sole yardstick for political action? Why do these jurists believe that they already know the permitted CO₂ emissions for 2030 onwards? Why, for example, do the red-robed wearers not refer the claimants from Bangladesh and Nepal, who were incited and financed by German NGOs, to neighboring India, which has increased its CO₂ emissions by 287 percent since 1990? Or to China, the world’s biggest polluter (up 353 percent since 1990). Or even better: the USA, where energy continues to be wasted (air conditioning, gas-guzzling SUVs, etc.) and where even the slightest misfortune can lead to gigantic compensation payments in court?
Dirigiste Climate Mandate—With the Pandemic Lockdowns as a Model
Make no mistake: This decision has “profound consequences for Germany,” as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) notes as one of the few critical voices. For it bolsters all those who want to use climate protection for their fight against capitalism in order to restrict freedoms protected by basic rights. The pandemic slowdowns and lockdowns serve as a model. The “guardians of the Constitution” who are supposed to protect the freedom of citizens are thus paving the way for a dirigiste climate mandate to which all other state goals are subordinated. Zero growth is the goal of those who no longer want to acknowledge the source of the prosperity that enables them to live a sheltered life.
This includes Germany’s top eco-authority: The Federal Environment Agency already called in 2019 for a “rescue” study to push carbon neutrality by 2030. In addition to many restrictions, the number of wind turbines in Germany would have to increase at least fivefold from today’s 30,000, to 150,000, as planned by the Green Party, citizen protests or not. The use of CO₂-free nuclear energy, which more and more countries are resorting to, is not even to be considered in Germany. The rapid population growth that you find in the Arab world and Africa as a possible cause for the overexploitation of the planet is also a taboo subject.
The same court, on the other hand, has just given the green light to the European debt and liability union. This will restrict the (financial) freedom of the “young generation” much more in the long run.
Instead, following the Karlsruhe decision, the German parties are competing to see who can set the most ambitious savings target. In an expedited procedure, the black-red federal government has obliged the country to speed up CO₂ neutrality by ten years to 2045. Not only does this raise huge economic and financial questions, but legal questions. For example, will every young person then be able to sue against new roads, buildings, industrial plants, etc., because they feel their “generational justice” has been violated? The litigation industry will find ways—driven by taxpayer-financed environmental associations that now also have backing from Karlsruhe.
Does the Creeping Expropriation of the “Rich” Come Next?
The same court, on the other hand, has just given the green light to the European debt and liability union. This will restrict the (financial) freedom of the “young generation” much more in the long run. Incidentally, it is this generation of affluent children that fuels the demand for electricity with their smartphones and is one of the main customer demographics of Amazon or other delivery services. Why, after all, are the container ships from China getting bigger and bigger? But even against this, claimants can be found. That the decision was disseminated in English and French makes sense to the FAZ: “The burdened and affected of this earth should know: In Karlsruhe they find refuge.”
Roman Herzog, Paul Kirchhof, and Hans-Jürgen Papier: These are the names to which the Federal Constitutional Court owes its good reputation. Peter Müller and Stephan Harbarth (who as chairman of the first senate is responsible for this unanimous ruling) are not. They are two CDU politicians by Chancellor Merkel’s grace. It is now imperative that the two chief jurists prove how liberal and progressive they are after all…so typical of conservatives.
Leftists, on the other hand, are not afraid to stand up for their cause. With the successes of the Greens, their influence will also grow in Karlsruhe—if that is still possible. Then the question will arise: What do the “guardians of the constitution” think about the right to and protection of property, as enshrined in Article 14 of the Basic Law? Are the tax plans of a possible green-red-red government not unconstitutional when measured against this? The Left Party is planning the creeping expropriation of all those it denounces as “rich.” Would that only be allowed if we pretend that the energy turnaround can only be accelerated, and the global climate saved, with additional funds?
The new Green-Black state government in Baden-Württemberg, which is considered a building block for a new federal government starting in the fall, is already showing the way: Climate protection has absolute priority. The Greens are not the only ones who want to subordinate everything else to this goal and, if necessary, even sacrifice the legally anchored debt ceiling. After all, that worked in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be interesting to see how the judges in Karlsruhe deal with the issue of sustainability, which will deprive future generations of the financial resources they need to breathe. Hopefully, claimants can be found.
 Note by the Austrian Institute: The paradox is that one would actually expect the Greens to name these aspects as well, but they usually do not. The article of the NZZ from 2019, to which the link in the sentence refers, reports the views of climate researchers about the connection between increasing population and additional burden for the climate. This connection is a fact, but the article concludes that it would be ethically questionable to “manage” population growth for this reason. Rather, the way forward is to promote economic development, education and general prosperity in these countries. Climate policy must not be pursued at the expense of poorer countries.
Translation from German by Thomas and Kira Howes