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French court finds France failed to meet its own Paris Agreement climate commitments

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The hypocrisy

YOAN VALAT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A French court declared France was guilty of failing to meet its own climate change goals that it had committed to when it signed the international agreement named after its own capital city. The lawsuit brought by four environmental groups claimed that France was not living up to the terms agreed upon in the Paris Agreement.

France, which brokered the 2015 international treaty on climate change, committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030. France also pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. However, four non-governmental organizations said the French government wasn't doing enough to curb climate change and was "responsible for ecological damage."

The NGOs include environmental groups Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, "It's Everyone's Business," and "The Foundation for Nature and Mandking." Two years ago, the environmental groups organized a petition to denounce "climate inaction" by the French government. The petition received 2 million signatures within a month. In March 2019, the organizations filed a lawsuit against France, according to CBS News.

The lawsuit alleges that France's greenhouse gas emissions "dropped at a pace that was twice as slow as the trajectories foreseen under the law."

On Wednesday, Paris' administrative court ruled that the French government was guilty of not living up to climate change expectations. The court ordered France to pay one euro ($1.20) for moral damage to each of the associations behind the lawsuit. Judges told the state to focus their efforts on meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals set forth by the Paris Climate Accord.

The administrative tribunal declared that it would reevaluate the country's climate change efforts in two months and determine if further measures should be taken against the government over their climate crisis response.

"The judges examined whether there was a causal link between this ecological damage and the various breaches alleged against the state in the fight against climate change. They held that the state should be held responsible for part of this damage if it failed to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the court statement said.

Despite only symbolic punishments levied against the French government, the NGOs were excited over the court's ruling.

"This decision marks a first historic victory for the climate and a major advance in French law," the organizations said in a joint statement. "This judgment also marks a victory for the truth: Until now, the state has denied that its climate policies were insufficient, despite mounting evidence."

"This is the first recognition by the courts of the responsibility of the French State for its climate inaction," Clementine Baldon, a lawyer for one of the NGOs, said.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord during his presidency.

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