French court orders state to honour its climate commitments

by Reuters
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12:46 GMT

Climate activists demonstrate in front of the Eiffel tower to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change, in Paris, France, December 10, 2020. The slogan reads "Paris Agreement in flames, Macron looks away". REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

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France is one of several countries where environmental activists are using the judicial system to force their governments to take faster action against global warming

(Adds lawyer comments, quotes)

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - A French court has ordered the state to honour its commitments on climate change, environmental organisations bringing the case said on Thursday.

The Paris administrative tribunal ruling, seen by Reuters, ordered the French government to take all necessary measures to repair ecological damage and to prevent a further increase of carbon emissions by end-December 2022 at the latest.

"Now the court system is becoming an ally in our fight against climate change," Greenpeace France director Jean-Francois Julliard told reporters.

The court ruled that the government must respect its commitment to reducing French greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990, but it did not impose fines or penalties to enforce its ruling.

France is one of several countries where environmental activists are using the judicial system to force their governments to take faster action against global warming.

Arie Alimi, one of the lawyers for the NGOs, told reporters that if the government does not take appropriate action to reduce emissions by the end of 2022, the court could follow up on its ruling and impose penalties.

Fondation Nicolas Hulot's Celia Gautier said that her organisation would invite all candidates in the April 2022 presidential election to detail their plans to fight climate change and meet the court's deadline.

In August, France's highest administrative court had already fined the state https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/top-court-fines-french-state-over-air-pollution-levels-2021-08-04 10 million euros ($12 million) for failing to improve air quality.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany's top court ruled https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-climate-change-germany-idUKKBN2CG0RW in April that the country must update its climate law by the end of next year to set out how it will cut carbon emissions down nearly to zero by 2050.

In the Netherlands, the High Court https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-netherlands-idUSKBN1YO12A ordered the government at the end of 2019 to step up its fight against climate change and to cut greenhouse gas emissions faster than planned.

($1 = 0.8613 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)