Sunday October 24, 2021

Court orders France to fix greenhouse gas cut shortfall

October 15, 2021

Paris: A French court on Thursday ordered the government to make up for its failure to meet its own greenhouse gas reduction targets, saying it needed to "repair" the emissions overshoots.

Four NGOs backed by a petition carrying 2.3 million signatures took the French state to court in 2019 in what they called "the case of the century", asking the judges to rule on the government’s alleged climate target shortcomings between 2015 and 2018.

The Paris administrative court found that France emitted 15 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent beyond its targets over that period.

It ordered Prime Minister Jean Castex and his government to take measures "to repair the damage" caused by the failure to compensate for the excess emissions.

The court gave a deadline of December 31, 2022, to set things right, leaving the methods to achieve this up to the government.

The court had already accepted the plaintiffs’ reasoning in February, ruling that France had failed to respect its own "carbon budget" based on the COP 21 UN climate accord signed in Paris in December 2015.

However, on Thursday it rejected a provision demanded by the plaintiffs that failure to meet the deadline should result in 78 million euros ($91 million) in penalties every six months until the target was fully achieved.

"We won," tweeted both Cecile Duflot -- a former government minister and now head of Oxfam France -- and Greenpeace France boss Jean-Francois Julliard.

"The government is now forced to keep France’s climate promises," said Notre Affaire a Tous, a third plaintiff that fights against environmental protection violations through court action.

The fourth plaintiff, Fondation Nicolas Hulot, created by President Emmanuel Macron’s former environment minister, said: "France has been sentenced to repair the consequences of its climate inaction."

The ruling is the latest in a series of court decisions putting pressure on France to meet its own environmental targets.