The administrative court of Paris has declared that the French state is guilty of “not having taken sufficient action to combat climate change” and has sentenced it to symbolic compensation of one euro to be paid to each of the four organizations that brought the lawsuit. Oxfam France, Greenpeace and two other NGOs claim the president’s statements Emmanuel Macron for global climate action are not supported by sufficient measures to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. The French newspapers described the judges’ sentence as “historic”.
The Paris Agreement ‘betrayed’ by France
The decision also recognized France’s responsibility for the climate crisis and found it illegal to fail to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets. The state is also blamed for “ecological damage”. Paradoxically, among the commitments not respected, there is also the international agreement signed in Paris five years ago which aims to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, and preferably keep it at 1.5 degrees.
The court then granted itself two months in which it will consider the measures necessary to prevent further damage to the environment and the French state may in the future be forced by judges to make stronger decisions to protect the climate. The French state – according to the AFP agency – could be forced to act in two ways. Either through sanctions aimed at compensating for environmental damage or through a series of objectives that should be achieved within time frames. The latter is the preferred option by activists from Oxfam France and Greenpeace, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire à Tous.
Defense of the Government
“The goal is for the government to take swift and strong measures to reduce CO2 emissions,” explained the spokesperson for Greenpeace. The initiative was launched in December 2018 when the four NGOs sent a letter to various representatives of the French government to criticize the administration’s inaction and ask for compensation for the damage caused by this attitude. In the absence of a satisfactory response, in March 2019 they had initiated the proceedings during which the Government of Paris rejected the accusations and stressed that it had set itself the goal of a 40% decrease in fossil fuel consumption by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality in 2050. Arguments that have not convinced the judges called to decide on the case.