Today, January 14, a Paris court will begin a hearing on a lawsuit filed by non-governmental organizations to support two million citizens accusing the French state of inaction in the fight against climate change.
An international agreement, signed in Paris five years ago, aims to limit global warming to less than 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, preferably to 1.5°C.
However, prosecution experts say governments are far from meeting their commitments, and anger is growing among the younger generation over government inaction.
The campaign groups are demanding that the court hold the state liable for environmental damage. Plaintiffs are confident that the victory will be a symbolic step to convince governments to do more in the fight against climate change. The purpose of the lawsuit is to make the French government responsible for its failure to act.
The case, which will be tried in France today, is part of a growing drive by climate activists worldwide to use the courts against governments.
In 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court ordered the Dutch authorities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% from 1990 levels by the end of 2020 after a non-governmental organization lawsuit.
The French case began in December 2018, when four groups accused the government of failing to cut emissions in a formal complaint supported by over two million people in an online petition. This is a record for France.
Unsatisfied with the response, non-governmental organizations, including Greenpeace France and Oxfam France, filed a legal complaint in March 2019, demanding from the state token damages of just one euro.
“We are very hopeful for this hearing and the decision that will follow,” Jean-François Jouliard, director of Greenpeace France, told AFP. He hopes that the court will admit that the state is not doing enough.
“The icing on the cake will be the decision to encourage the government to do more to get France back on the trajectory of the Paris Agreement,” concludes the director of Greenpeace France.