Court Convicts French State for Failing to Meet Climate Targets

In an extraordinary, groundbreaking case, France has been found guilty of ‘non-respect of its engagements’ aimed at fighting global warming.

A Paris court has convicted the French state of failing to address the climate crisis and not keeping its promises to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. In what has been hailed as a historic ruling, the court found the state guilty of “non-respect of its engagements” aimed at combating global warming.


Billed the “affair of the century”, the legal case was brought by four French environmental groups after a petition signed by 2.3 million people. “This is an historic win for climate justice. The decision not only takes into consideration what scientists say and what people want from French public policies, but it should also inspire people all over the world to hold their governments accountable for climate change in their courts,” said Jean-François Julliard, the executive director of Greenpeace France, one of the plaintiffs.

He said the judgment would be used to push the French state to act against the climate emergency. “No more blah blah,” he added.


Cécilia Rinaudo, the director of Notre Affaire à Tous (It’s Everyone’s Business), another plaintiff, said it was an “immense victory” for climate activists around the world. “It’s a victory for all the people who are already facing the devastating impact of the climate crisis that our leaders fail to tackle. The time has come for justice,” Rinaudo said.


The court ruled that the applicants were entitled to seek compensation in kind for the "ecological damage" caused by France’s failure to comply with the targets it had set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It said this needed further investigation and gave the state two months to respond.


As a signatory to the Paris Agreement in 2015, the French government pledged to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The court has essentially declared it's not doing enough to meet its obligations.


France’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 0.9% in 2018-19, when the annual drop needed to reach its targets is 1.5% until 2025 and 3.2% afterwards.


Wouldn't it be extraordinarily good news if this case propelled other governments to pull their proverbial fingers out and get on with hitting their climate targets?! Watch this space...

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