13 March 2020
Lawyers are calling for climate to be a mandatory consideration in all planning decisions, after a German court ruled that major gas pipeline EUGAL, part of Nord Stream 2, should go ahead with its climate impacts remaining unassessed.
Landowner and journalist Malte Heynen had challenged the pipeline on the basis that authorities had approved it based on demand forecasts provided by the gas lobby. Moreover, the climate change impacts of the project, which legally must be assessed, had not been.
Mr Heynen maintains the pipeline is unnecessary, and will lead to decades of fossil fuel lock-in even as the EU fights to achieve climate neutrality.
He was supported in his challenge by environmental lawyers ClientEarth.
Mr Heynen said: “I had hoped that the court would curtail the gas lobby’s influence. But their power is considerable and this is worrying – they themselves are writing the forecasts of Europe’s future gas demand, and in doing so, have managed to score approval for a huge infrastructure project.
“The authorities did not check these forecasts – I’ve seen the local authorities’ files on this myself. It’s a scandal. EUGAL is the final piece of a mega-pipeline that will keep us locked into gas and emitting unnecessary CO2 for decades. This is another dark day for the climate.”
Head of ClientEarth Germany Hermann Ott said: “From geopolitical, energy security, and climate perspectives, Nord Stream 2 is unnecessary and a false step. The EUGAL pipeline was essentially approved on the basis of information supplied by the gas industry itself, and not interrogated by the authorities. It’s alarming that the court did not seize on this issue.
“In the face of climate change, fossil fuel lock-in is a pitfall we can’t afford and climate must therefore be part of all planning considerations. The whole of Europe must rapidly transition to renewables. We cannot have companies dictating our energy future unquestioned.”
Mr Heynen is now waiting for the written ruling from the Oberverwaltungsgericht Berlin-Brandenburg, and will consider his options after this.
He said: “The ruling is not the end of the road. This pipeline is a disaster for the climate and I plan to take every action available to me to make authorities acknowledge that.”
Notes to editors:
Please find more information about the legal challenge here.
Court documents in English and German, detailing Mr Heynen’s legal arguments, are available on request.
Lawyer Thorsten Deppner represented Mr Heynen in the case.
ClientEarth has previously submitted challenges to the Nord Stream 2 project based on dangers it poses to marine wildlife.
ClientEarth lawyers have also challenged a major gas expansion at the UK’s Drax power plant. This case will be heard in the coming weeks.
ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and planet. We know the law is an incredibly powerful tool for change and environmental protection. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on developing laws that combat climate change and protect nature. When those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.
Malte Heynen, Claimant
+49 (0)1577 157 00 44, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Baker, ClientEarth Communications Manager
+44 (0)203 030 5951, email@example.com