The highest French administrative court condemned the government’s failure to respect the Paris Agreement and the fight against global warming, giving it nine months to comply with the climate objectives to which it has committed.
In his historic decision, the Council of State, a governmental body which exercises the functions of supreme court of administrative justice, gave nine months to the government to take “all the necessary measures to slow down the curve of greenhouse gas emissions produced on the national territory in order to ensure its compatibility with the objectives “.
This means that, until the presidential elections in April 2022, and as the campaign period is in full swing, it will be imperative for the government to step up its climate policy.
According to the judges, “the government admits that the measures currently in force do not make it possible to achieve the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030”.
This target has been set in the country low carbon strategy in which it set the goal by 2030 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, as well as being carbon neutral by 2050.
In January and March 2019, the municipality of Grande-Synthe in the North region and several environmental associations, including Oxfam, Greenpeace, Notre Affaire à Tous, sued the state for “climate inaction”.
The town considers itself particularly exposed to the risks associated with climate change and fears having to deal with rising water levels in the years to come.
Grande-Synthe’s lawyer, Corinne Lepage, said the state recognized “the largely inadequate nature of the climate and resilience bill” and called the decision a “historic decision”.
The decision of the Council of State comes after the High Council for Climate Change (HCC) slammed France in its third annual report Wednesday July 30, affirming that the rate of decline in emissions “must still almost double by 2021 to align with the climate objectives” agreed at the EU level.
The Climate and Resilience Bill, which was voted by the right-wing Senate Monday (July 28), had also been the subject of gunfire.
The current text, which has yet to be voted on by the National Assembly in September, has been criticized by the Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili for being weaker than previous projects. Greenpeace France also considers the text in its current form “still far too weak in the face of the climate emergency”.
A decision that should make the EU think
The Green MEP and former mayor of Grande-Synthe, Damien Carême, declared: “This decision of the Council of State is historic: for the first time in France, the State is summoned to act by its own justice because of of its climate inaction “.
“I hope this decision will spell the end of political cynicism. People are no longer fooled and I welcome similar legal actions in other EU countries, ”he added.
But France is not alone when it comes to tackling climate goals.
In April, Germany’s Constitutional Court rejected the country’s climate law, arguing that the targets were not ambitious enough.
“Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately took note of the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court and announced more ambitious climate goals,” said French NGO Notre Affaire à Tous, which hopes its own government will do the same.
At EU level, member states recently increased their commitment to reduce emissions by 2030 from 40% to 55%, a new ambition that will require additional efforts from France and the other 26 countries in the bloc.
“At a time when the European Commission is preparing to propose a review of legislation related to climate action to achieve its emission reduction targets by 2030 (the Fit for 55 package), this judgment should make them think and push them to make proposals that meet the challenge, ”added Lent.
Clara Bauer-Babef, EurActiv.com