In what has been alternatively billed as the Case and the Affair of the Century, the French State has been recognized as responsible for failures in the fight against global warming, by a judgment of February 3, 2021. The administrative court of Paris recognized the existence of ecological damage linked to climate change.
THE COURT CONSIDERED THAT THE PARTIAL FAILURE OF THE FRENCH STATE TO RESPECT THE OBJECTIVES IT HAS SET FOR ITSELF IN TERMS OF REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ENGAGES ITS RESPONSIBILITY.
In March 2019, the environmental defense associations Oxfam France, Notre Affaire à tous, Fondation pour la Nature et l'Homme and Greenpeace France lodged four requests before the administrative court of Paris in order to have the deficiency of the French State in the fight against climate change, to obtain its condemnation to repair not only their moral damage but also the ecological damage and to put an end to the failures of the State to its obligations.
The judges examined whether there was a causal link between this ecological damage and the various breaches alleged against the State in the fight against climate change and held that the State should be held responsible for part of this damage if it had not respected its commitments in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
With regard to the compensation for ecological damage, the court rejected the conclusions of the applicant associations seeking financial compensation for this damage.
At the same time, the court considered that the applicants were justified in requesting compensation in kind for the ecological damage caused by non-compliance with the objectives set by France in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In order to determine the measures to be ordered to the State to repair the damage caused or prevent its aggravation, the judges issued an additional investigation, with a two-month period.
Finally, the court considered that the faulty shortcomings of the State in respecting its commitments in the fight against global warming undermined the collective interests defended by each of the applicant associations. He thus condemned the State to pay to the associations Oxfam France, Notre Affaire à tous, Fondation pour la Nature et l'Homme and Greenpeace France the sum of one euro requested by each in compensation for their moral damage.
François Julliard, the executive director of Greenpeace France, said the judgment would be used to push the French state to act against the climate emergency. And eloquently added:
“NO MORE BLAH BLAH".Cécilia Rinaudo, the director of Notre Affaire à Tous said
“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, THIS LEGAL ACTION HAS BROUGHT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TOGETHER IN A COMMON FIGHT: THE FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE. THE JUDGE’S LANDMARK DECISION PROVES THAT FRANCE’S CLIMATE INACTION IS NO LONGER TOLERABLE, IT IS ILLEGAL.”
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Images: Unsplash | Thomas Kelley / Rachael Bongiorno