Thursday, February 04, 2021

Climate Change: A legal victory in France

A few years ago, people launched a series of high-profile court cases against governments over their inaction on climate change. Another one of these has just been successful, with a French court ruling that the French government has not done enough and is liable to damages for failing to meet its commitments:

A Paris court has convicted the French state of failing to address the climate crisis and not keeping its promises to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

In what has been hailed as a historic ruling, the court found the state guilty of “non-respect of its engagements” aimed at combating global warming.


The court ruled that compensation for “ecological damage” was admissible, and declared the state “should be held liable for part of this damage if it had failed to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

It did not uphold a claim for symbolic compensation, saying compensation should be made “in kind”, with damages awarded “only if the reparation measures were impossible or insufficient”.

However, the court ruled that the applicants were entitled to seek compensation in kind for the “ecological damage caused by France’s failure to comply with the targets it had set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It said this needed further investigation and gave the state two months to respond.

It awarded each organisation a symbolic €1 for “moral prejudice”, saying the state’s failure to honour its climate commitments was “detrimental to the collective interest”.

Which means France is now on the hook for its proportionate share of all the damage that will be caused by climate change. Hopefully that will sharpen their minds about actually doing something about it.