Friday, October 15, 2021

Climate Change: Another legal victory

Across the world climate change activists have been going to court, seeking to make their governments act to protect future generations. And hot on the heels of victories in the Netherlands and Germany, there's been another one in France:

A French court has 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 signed by 2.3 million people 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 on Thursday found France emitted 15m tonnes of CO2-equivalent beyond its targets over that period.

It ordered the 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 31 December 2022 to set things right, leaving the methods to achieve this up to the government.

The obvious method is for France to emit 15 million tons less next year, or buy 15 millions tons of EU-ETS credits and shred them. At current prices the latter would cost them around 900 million Euro. Which means that the court-ordered penalties for failure of 78 million Euro every six months are an order of magnitude too small to provide an incentive.

Note that Aotearoa's climate law specifically forbids this. Our government refuses to be accountable under the law if it fails to meet its obligations. Which is effectively a declaration of criminal intent.