The French state must “repair” the consequences of its unfulfilled commitments in the fight against global warming. This is what the justice ordered this Thursday, October 14 within the framework of “The Affair of the Century”, a large-scale legal action carried out by associations which denounce the “climate inaction” of the State.

The dispute was brought before the administrative court of Paris in 2019 by four NGOs and supported by a petition of more than 2.3 million citizens. They denounced the non-respect by France of its own commitments in terms of the fight against greenhouse gas emissions, in particular the “carbon budgets” set in the National Low Carbon Strategy for the period 2015-2018.

In February, the court ruled in their favor, declaring the State “responsible” for the breaches of its commitments and the “ecological damage” which results from it. The four NGOs (Notre Affaire à Tous, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Nicolas Hulot Foundation) had subsequently applied to the Tribunal for this injunction. He once again agreed with them, ordering that this overrun be compensated for on “December 31, 2022, at the latest”.

“It is necessary to order the Prime Minister and the competent ministers to take all useful sectoral measures likely to repair the damage up to the uncompensated part of greenhouse gas emissions under the first carbon budget », Write the judges. The latter assess the deficit compared to the objectives announced at 15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

On the other hand, justice considers that the measures to be taken are left “at the discretion of the government” and rejects at this stage the request of the NGOs for a financial penalty of 78 million per semester of delay.

The government “takes note”

“Justice is becoming an ally of the climate movement,” said Jean-François Julliard, head of Greenpeace France. For its part, the government “took note” of the decision, saying it was “fully aware of its obligations and the need to always accelerate the climate effort”, and recalling the acceleration of the pace of the decline in emissions since the start of the five-year term.

Last July, the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, had already ordered the state to take measures by March 31, 2022 to meet its emission reduction commitments.

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