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Court finds French government guilty of failing to meet climate commitments

Court finds French government guilty of failing to meet climate commitments
A French court ruled on Wednesday that the government is guilty of failing to fulfil its obligations to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as laid out under the Paris Climate Accord.

The court’s judgement on Wednesday marks the end of a case launched in 2018 by a group of NGOs, including Oxfam France and Greenpeace France, accusing the French government of not doing enough to address global warming. The organizations also called for France to implement even more measures to tackle harmful emissions.

In a statement after the ruling, the NGOs involved expressed “hope that justice will not be limited to acknowledging the state’s fault, but will also force it to finally take concrete measures to at least meet its climate commitments.”

This decision marks a first historic victory for the climate and a major step forward in French law.

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The group also welcomed the ruling as opening the door for direct victims of climate change in the country to seek compensation from the French government over its failings.

Alongside its judgement on the French government’s policy, the court ruled that the country was partly responsible for climate change, accusing politicians of ecological damage due to their failure to fulfil the requirements pledged under the Paris Climate Accords. 

The government has been ordered to pay €1 as a symbolic gesture of compensation for their “moral prejudice.” The court has set itself two months to consider what measures it will order France to take to address the existing damage and to ensure the state meets its climate obligations in future.

France's President Emmanuel Macron, who took office after this case had been launched, has publicly backed taking stronger action on climate change, calling for the European Union to increase its 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gases from 40 percent to 55 percent.

However, the NGOs that brought the case have claimed that Macron’s actions are still not enough to tackle the scale of the problem in the required timeframe.

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