PARIS – A French court began examining what environmental and other NGOs are calling a “case of the century” on Thursday, accusing the country’s authorities of failing to act on climate change.
It stems from a complaint filed by Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire à Tous (“Our Shared Responsibility”) in March 2019.
NGOs have said that a victory at the Paris Administrative Court could imply recognition of the state’s duty to tackle climate change and call for swift action.
Greenpeace said in a statement that “such a decision would be historic and enshrine in law that the fight against climate change is essential to the protection of fundamental rights”.
The court’s decision is expected within two weeks.
A petition launched in 2018 to support the lawsuit has garnered more than 2.3 million signatures.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has expressed his support for action against climate change very clearly, pushed last month to strengthen the European Union’s 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gases. ‘at least 55% from 1990 levels – against the previous target of 40%.
But activists say Macron’s lobbying for global climate action is not backed up by sufficient national measures to reduce emissions blamed on global warming.
France has not met its national targets set under the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change, and the country has delayed most of its efforts until after 2020.
Cécile Duflot, President of Oxfam France, told France Info’s news channel that “when you govern, you decide for our future, and if you don’t make the right decisions now, it is the future of our children, our grandchildren, who will have very little to do with what we are going through today.