Germany's top court sided on Thursday with a young woman who fears that rising sea levels will engulf the family farm, in a ruling that gives the government until the end of next year to tighten a 2019 climate change law.
The ruling casts a shadow over a signature achievement of Chancellor Angela Merkel's final term in office, an agreement thrashed out after much haggling between her conservatives and the Social Democrats.
The German Constitutional Court said in a ruling on Thursday the law did not in itself violate the rights of future generations, but that it did fail to make sufficient provision for further carbon dioxide emissions cuts from 2031.
Among the plaintiffs was Sophie Becksen, the daughter of a farming family on the North Sea island of Pellworm, who fears that rising sea levels would engulf her low-lying island, leaving her with no inheritance to claim.
"The challenged provisions do violate the freedoms of the complainants, some of whom are still very young," the court said in a statement. "The provisions irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030."
The law commits Germany to ensuring that by 2030 carbon dioxide emissions should be at least 55% lower than in 1990, and that almost no carbon dioxide be emitted by 2050.
The law was challenged by four plaintiffs including Becksen, with the backing of environmental groups including Greenpeace and the Fridays for Future movement that was inspired by Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg.