France’s top administrative court on Thursday (Jul 1) gave the government a nine-month deadline to take “all the necessary steps” to reach its targets for combatting climate change.
Ruling on a case brought by the northern coastal town of Grande-Synthe, the State Council said France was set to miss its target of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, unless it took corrective action.
As a result, the court ordered Prime Minister Jean Castex to take “all the necessary steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions” by Mar 31, 2022.
The deadline falls in the final weeks of campaigning in France’s presidential election, meaning that President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to seek a second term, will be under intense scrutiny on an issue shaping up as a key theme in the vote.
The council’s ruling comes two days after the High Council on Climate, a body that advises the government, warned that France was still far off its target on fighting global warming, despite emissions falling by an unprecedented 9.2 per cent last year at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
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Despite his headline 2017 promise to “make our planet great again” – a swipe at former US President Donald Trump, a global-warming denier – Macron has been criticised for failing to meet France’s targets under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Faced with what they see as the state’s inaction, French activists, like those in other countries, have begun using courts to pressure governments into action.
In a ruling in February that was hailed as historic by campaigners, a Paris court held that the state was liable for its failure to take sufficient measures to halt climate change and ordered it to pay a symbolic one euro in damages.