Building on the Hague Court of Appeals decision of October 9, 2018, which ordered the Dutch government to take more effective actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, French non-governmental organizations (NGOs) likewise intend to hold the French state liable for its alleged failure to effectively combat climate change.
As a preliminary step, on December 18, 2018, several NGOs served a 40-page request to the French government, requesting the adoption of corrective measures to reduce France's contribution to climate change and seeking relief for both the moral and environmental damage resulting from the alleged failure of the French government to effectively combat climate change.
The NGOs' legal claim relies on the possibility under French administrative law to seek the state's liability for failure to adequately fulfill its obligations, in particular in the event of health or environmental risk. In their request, the NGOs argue that: (i) the French government has failed to comply with its general duty to prevent climate change, which allegedly arises from various sources of law; and (ii) the French government is unlikely to meet the compulsory targets set out by European or national authorities with regard to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, development of renewable energy, and increase of energy efficiency.
If the government does not provide a positive answer to the NGOs within a two-month delay, the NGOs will be entitled to formally challenge such decision (or lack thereof) before the administrative courts, resulting in one of the first climate change litigations in France, further to a similar claim filed on January 23, 2019, by the mayor of the city of Grande-Synthe in the North of France. In addition to these legal actions, the NGOs have initiated an online petition supporting the contemplated climate litigation, termed "the Case of the Century." While it is not possible to predict the ruling of French courts on this matter, such climate litigation may induce the French government to adopt more stringent regulations regarding climate change.
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