The Time of the Law. The German Constitutional Court’s Ultra-spective Judgment

The German Constitutional Court judgment of 24 March 2021 declared the Climate Change Act of 2019 unconstitutional because it disproportionately allocates the burden of reducing CO-2 emissions to future generations. By doing so the Court has taken in account a considerable time span, which includes the future. When dealing with long-lasting goals, like arresting the climate change, the law might assume an ultra-spective character: in order to ensure that the commitment undertaken today will be effectively achieved in the future, the law’s effects shall be spread over different generations. The constitutional protection of rights must be therefore one for today and tomorrow, without offloading to future generations the burden to act. Consequently, also the reasonableness test regarding the compression of future rights shall be done according to the standards of today, in order to avoid harsher restrictions.