France state

First instance court fines French state for air pollution levels


The Eiffel Tower is surrounded by a haze of small particles that hovers above the skyline of Paris, France on December 9, 2016, as the City of Lights has experienced the worst air pollution in a decade. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File photo

PARIS, August 4 (Reuters) – (This August 4 article corrected paragraphs 2 and 3 to show the fine is greater than nitrogen dioxide levels, not nitrous oxide)

France’s highest administrative court on Wednesday sentenced the state to a fine of 10 million euros ($ 11.9 million) for failing to improve air quality in several regions of the country.

The sanction comes four years after the State Council, which acts as legal adviser to the executive and as the supreme court of administrative justice, ordered the government to reduce nitrogen dioxide and particulate levels fine in more than a dozen areas to comply with European standards.

In its ruling, the court said President Emmanuel Macron‘s government had done too little to improve air quality in some areas, with nitrogen dioxide levels still too high in Paris, the capital, and Lyon, the second largest agglomeration in France, in 2020.

“The measures taken by the government are insufficient to consider that the 2017 court decision has been fully executed,” the Council of State said in a statement.

Environment Ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The government had argued that it had implemented new measures since July last year to clean the air in its cities, including additional low-emission zones, incentives for electric and hybrid cars and the phasing out of oil-fired boilers.

The court said it could impose an additional 10 million euros in fines every six months until the government hits the targets.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth, which filed the first complaint, welcomed the fine and said it was the result of years of pressure on the state by activists and the public.

Greenpeace in France said it was a record fine for not meeting air quality standards.

In another case, the Council of State threatened to impose a fine on the French state if it did not demonstrate that it was adopting policies that would achieve a greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 % of their 1990 levels by 2030. read more

($ 1 = 0.8408 euros)

Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Kevin Liffey

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