Court Rules France Failed to Respect Its Climate Change Goal

PARIS (AP) -- A court on Wednesday ruled that the French state failed to take sufficient action to fight climate change in a case brought by a group of nongovernmental organizations.

In its ruling, the Paris administrative court recognized ecological damage linked to climate change and held the French state responsible for failing to fully meet its goals in reducing greenhouse gases.

President Emmanuel Macron, who has been very vocal about his support for climate change action, pushed in December 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 Oxfam France, Greenpeace France and two other organizations 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.

The court ruled that there was a link between ecological damage and deficiencies by the state in respecting its own goals. It decided that awarding money wasn't appropriate in this case. Instead, reparations should center on fixing the failure to respect goals for lowering greenhouse gases.

The four NGOs that brought the case called the decision “a first historic victory for the climate” as well as a “victory for truth," saying that until now France has denied the “insufficiency of its climate policies.”

The court gave itself two months to decide on measures to repair the problem and stop it from getting worse. It did, however, ask the French state to pay each of the four organizations that brought the action a symbolic euro each, a common practice in France.