A French court has ordered the state to honour its commitments on cutting carbon emissions and to find ways to repair the damage for exceeding them, in the latest in a series of cases that have condemned France's climate failures.
The Paris administrative court said Wednesday that “for the first time” it was ordering the state “to fix the consequences of its shortcomings in fighting climate change”.
It ruled in favour of four NGOs who brought the case against the French government in 2019 to focus attention on the failures to fight climate change.
A first ruling in February recognised the state’s responsibility in fixing the ecological damage caused by not meeting its emissions goals.
Thursday’s ruling gives the state until 31 December 2022 to find a way to compensate for the extra tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted.
France has committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
"We have won,” tweeted Cecile Duflot, the director of Oxfam France, one of the four NGOs, along with Greepeace France, the Nicolas Hulot foundation and Notre affaire a tous, that filed the case under the banner L’Affaire du siècle (The affair of the century).
“The state must not only make up for lost time but also repair the damage!”
The court determined that France emitted 62 million extra tonnes of emissions from 2015-2018, though it lowered the amount to 15 million tonnes, taking into account the drop in emissions in 2020.
The drop is “mostly linked to the effects of the Covid-19 health crisis, and not a specific State action,” wrote the court, but it should nonetheless be taken into account.
The court rejected a request to have France to pay 78 million euros per semester of delay in meeting the emissions goals, and said it is up to the Prime minister and the government to come up with the measures to fix the problem.
Measures could include rennovating more buildings, vastly increasing rail traffic or quadrupling organic farming, suggests the Affaire du siecle organisation.