France commune

Supreme Court gives French government nine months to act on climate change

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, July 1 (Reuters) – France’s highest board on Thursday called on the government to act now on climate change to ensure it responds to comments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse, under penalty of possible fines.

Last November, the Council of State, which acts as legal counsel to the executive and as the supreme court of administrative justice, gave the government three months to demonstrate that it was implementing climate policies that would achieve a target. reduction of greenhouse gases to 40% of their 1990 levels by 2030.

Almost eight months later, he said that goal still seemed unattainable unless further action was taken quickly.

“The Council of State therefore instructs the government to take additional measures by March 31, 2022, to achieve the objective,” said the council.

A spokesperson for the council said it would assess the state’s actions after the deadline and could issue a fine if the measures fell short of what was needed.

The Council of State’s position raised questions about President Emmanuel Macron’s credentials as a champion in the fight against climate change and affirms the binding nature of the greenhouse gas reduction targets contained in the legislation.

The rate of decline in greenhouse gas emissions in France between 2015-2018 was about half as fast as necessary to be on the right track to achieve its 2030 target.

At the same time, the decline in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 is mainly due to the slowdown in economic activity induced by COVID-19, a report published by the Independent High Council for the Climate said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex’s office said the government had taken note of the council’s ordinance and that government subsidies for electric cars and more energy-efficient housing, as well as climate legislation passed by parliament, were proof of its commitment to reducing emissions.

The case was initially brought to court by the municipality of Grande-Synthe, in northern France. The city is built on reclaimed land and local authorities say it is at risk of being inundated by rising sea levels caused by global warming.

The board has the power to award damages.

Greenpeace France hailed what it called “a clear ultimatum issued in the face of government inaction on climate change”.

Reporting by Nicolas Delame, Matthieu Protard and Elizabeth Pineau; edited by David Evans

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