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In the case of the century, justice requires the State to repair its “ecological damage”



A “Historic decision”. A “Essential case law for the future”. A “Source of hope”. It is an understatement to say that the four NGOs gathered in “The Affair of the Century” – Our Common Affair, Oxfam, Greenpeace and the Nicolas-Hulot Foundation – welcomed the decision rendered Thursday, October 14 by the Paris Administrative Court. After judging on February 3 the State responsible for a “Ecological damage”, for non-compliance with its objectives in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the court demands compensation.

This second judgment “Enjoin” to the government of “Take all necessary measures” to ensure the “Effective repair” damage by December 31, 2022. A formal notice that upholds the fight waged for three years by “The Case of the Century”. With a petition with more than 2.3 million signatures, four organizations had filed in March 2019 a request before the administrative court for “Faulty deficiency” of State.

In question ? France’s overrun, over the 2015-2018 period, of its carbon budget of nearly 62 million tonnes “Carbon dioxide equivalent”. A surplus reduced to 15 million by the magistrates on October 14, after the “Substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020”. It is these 15 million tonnes that the government must imperatively compensate by the end of 2022.

In a response listing all the measures undertaken over the past four years, the Ministry of Ecological Transition “Takes note of the decision”. “Justice is becoming a real ally in the fight against climate change, greets Jean-François Julliard, director of Greenpeace France. It sanctions here a State which has not done enough, not quickly enough. “ Far beyond the obligations imposed on the government in this case, the associations see it as a paradigm shift in the conduct of ecological policies.

“From now on, any politician will find himself caught between two stakes: respecting his environmental commitments or fixing the slightest deviation from the road”, analysis Cécilia Rinaudo, coordinator for Our Common Affair. The same goes for Cécile Duflot, Executive Director of Oxfam France: “The state is under pressure. The next President of the Republic, whoever he is, will have a sword of Damocles over his head. “ In addition to the substantial reduction in ecological damage, the magistrates did not retain the penalty requested by the four NGOs (more than 78 million euros per semester of delay), nor specified to the executive the measures likely to compensate for the past carbon budget overrun.

The government sees it “The judge’s mark of confidence” in its commitment to keep its ecological promises. “The injunction is in itself important, the penalty will come if the damage is not repaired on time”, warns Me Arié Alimi, Oxfam France lawyer. Until then, another ecological ultimatum will expire for the executive: in July, the Council of State, seized by the municipality of Grande-Synthe (North), gave it until March 31, 2022 to take “All necessary measures” to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

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