NGOs launch legal action against France over climate

PARIS • A group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Greenpeace and Oxfam, have launched a lawsuit against the French state, accusing it of taking insufficient action to tackle climate change.

It comes after similar action was launched by farmers in Germany, and the Dutch government lost a landmark case brought by an environmental rights group on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"The failure of the state in the fight against climate change reflects a lack of respect in its obligation to protect the environment, and the health and security of the population," the NGOs said in a joint statement on Monday.

The French government will have two months to respond to the legal action.

"We are seeking redress for damages and asking the state to act straightaway at all levels," Greenpeace campaigner Laura Monnier said.

The NGOs allege that France has not met its short-term climate objectives.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has attempted to paint himself as a leader in fighting climate change since his election last year, recently backed down on anti-pollution fuel tax hikes in the face of country-wide "yellow vest" protests.

In October, the Dutch government lost an appeal against a ruling which ordered it to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 per cent by 2020.

Environmental rights group Urgenda fought the successful case on behalf of some 900 Dutch citizens who accused the Netherlands of doing too little to prevent dangerous climate change.

In Germany, dismayed farmers who have suffered damage to their crops and dairy farms as a result of record drought have also filed a lawsuit, with the aid of Greenpeace, against Berlin to force action.

Last month, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a report that warming is on track towards an unliveable 3 deg C or 4 deg C rise, and that avoiding global chaos will require a major transformation.

A deal reached at the UN's COP24 climate summit in Poland over the weekend was criticised for not matching the ambition of the world's most vulnerable countries.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2018, with the headline 'NGOs launch legal action against France over climate'. Print Edition | Subscribe