French court rules France not doing enough on climate change

FILE PHOTO: Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris, France, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

(This Feb 3 story refiles to fix typographical error in word “warming” in first paragraph)

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s government must do more to combat climate change, a French court said on Wednesday, in what environmental campaigners called a landmark ruling that could ramp up pressure on other countries to act on global warning.

The case was brought by a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who accused the French state of not living up to its own commitments, including a multi-year plan to cut carbon emissions, and the 2015 Paris Climate accord.

In its ruling, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris said there were “wrongful deficiencies on the part of the state in implementing public policies to allow it to achieve objectives it had set on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Reacting to the ruling, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told a briefing it was true that not enough had been done in the past, but the current administration was working to address the issues.

The government has previously said it is making huge efforts to respond to global warming, and is doing more than many other countries.

Cécile Duflot, Executive Director of Oxfam France, one of the NGOs that brought the case, called Wednesday’s decision “a historic victory for climate justice”.

“For the first time, a French court has ruled that the state can be held responsible for its climate commitments.” She said the ruling served as “a timely reminder to all governments that actions speak louder than words.”

In Brussels on Wednesday, the European Union’s top court ruled that Hungary had “systematically and persistently” breached legal limits on air pollution from particulate matter, in some regions for as long as 12 years.

Reporting by Christian Lowe and Elizabeth Pineau; editing by John Stonestreet