PARIS (AP) — A French court started examining on Thursday what environmental and other NGOs are billing as “the case of the century,” accusing the country’s authorities of failing to act against climate change.
It stems from a legal complaint filed by Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire à Tous (“Our Shared Responsibility”) in March 2019.
The NGOs said a victory at the Paris administrative court could involve recognition of the state’s duty to fight climate change and urge quick action.
Greenpeace said in a statement that “such a decision would be historic and would inscribe in law that the fight against climate change is essential to the protection of fundamental rights.”
A petition launched in 2018 to support the court action has gathered more than 2.3 million signatures.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been very vocal about his support for climate change action, pushed last month for beefing up the European Union’s 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 55% compared with 1990 levels — up from the previous 40% target.
But activists say Macron’s lobbying for global climate action is not backed up by sufficient domestic measures to curb emissions blamed for global warming.
France is missing its national targets that had been set under the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate change, and the country has delayed most of its efforts until after 2020.
Cecile Duflot, president of Oxfam France, said on France Info news broadcaster that “when you govern, you decide for our future, and if you’re not making the right decisions now that’s the future of our children, our grandchildren, that will have very little to do with what we are living today.”