Notre Affaire à Tous and Others v. France
Jurisdiction: Administrative Court of Paris
Principle law(s): 2020 Climate and Energy Package (contains Directive 2009/29/EC, Directive 2009/28/EC, Directive 2009/31/EC and Decision No. 406/2009/EC of the Parliament and the Council ; see below)
Side A: Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (Ngo)
Side A: Greenpeace France (Ngo)
Side A: Notre Affaire à Tous (Ngo)
Side A: Oxfam France (Ngo)
Side B: France (Government)
Core objectives: Whether the French government’s failure to take further action on climate change violates a statutory duty to act under domestic and international law
SummaryOn December 17, 2018, four nonprofits sent a “lettre préalable indemnitaire” (letter of formal notice) to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 12 members of the French government, initiating the first stage in a legal proceeding against the French government for inadequate action on climate change. This type of letter is part of a legal proceeding known as “recours en carence fautive” (action for failure to act). The plaintiffs allege that the French government’s failure to implement proper measures to effectively address climate change violated a statutory duty to act. The four plaintiff groups are Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (FNH), Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous and Oxfam France. In their press release, they describe the lawsuit as challenging the state's inaction on climate change and failure to meet its own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, and limiting energy consumption.
2. Take, at least, all necessary measures to achieve France's targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency;
3. Take the necessary measures to adapt the national territory to the effects of climate change;
4. Take the necessary measures to protect citizens’ lives and health from the risks of climate change.
On June 26th, 2020, the ministry for the ecological transition asked the administrative court's judge to dismiss the request. According to the plaintiffs, the government asserted that it was taking action to address greenhouse gas emissions, and that the time has not elapsed for it to meet its 2020 goals.
The case was heard in court on January 14, 2020. At the hearing the public rapporteur (independant consultant judge who provides an opinion to help guide the court's decision) issued an opinion. According to the plaintiffs, the opinion urged the court to recognize the fault of the French government, to recognize climate change as pure ecological damage, to award damages of one euro for moral prejudice, but to stop short of issuing an injunction because past damage cannot be repaired.
On October 14, 2021, the administrative court of Paris ordered the State to take immediate and concrete actions to comply with its commitments on cutting carbon emissions and repair the damages caused by its inaction by December 31, 2022. The court determined that France emitted 62 million extra tonnes of emissions from 2015-2018, though it lowered the amount to 15 million tonnes, taking into account the drop in emissions in 2020. The court thus called on France to subtract the emissions caused in excess of its legislative commitments, adding these to the reduction of emissions planned between 2021 and 2022. France has committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. Any future slippage of emissions beyond the legislative commitments must also be compensated. The court rejected a request to have France to pay 78 million euros per semester of delay in meeting the emissions goals, and said it is up to the Prime minister and the government to come up with the measures to fix the problem.
- Final decision (French)
- Unofficial translation of the Administrative Court decision (English)
- Administrative Court decision (French)
- States' reply unofficially translated (English)
- Plaintiff's reply to the State's arguments (French)
- Unofficial translation of the Brief Juridique submitted to the Administrative Court of Paris on March 14, 2019. Translation is courtesy of Marine Yzquierdo and the Legal Strategy Team of Notre Affaire à Tous. (English)
- Letter of Formal Notice (in English), unofficial translation from Filippo P. Fantozzi and the legal strategy team of Notre Affaire à Tous (English)
- press release (English)
- English press release for summary request (English)
- Unofficial summary of "summary request" (French)
- Letter of Formal Notice to Officials (French)
Related laws and policies
2020 Climate and Energy Package (contains Directive 2009/29/EC, Directive 2009/28/EC, Directive 2009/31/EC and Decision No. 406/2009/EC of the Parliament and the Council ; see below)
In 2007 EU leaders endorsed an integrated approach to climate and energy policy that aims to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening its competitiveness. In 2008 the European Commission proposed binding legislation to implement the 20-20-20 targets. This 'climate an...