France found guilty of failing to meet obligations under Paris climate agreement

France found guilty of failing to meet obligations under Paris climate agreement
AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool
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The Paris climate accord is meant to get member countries in line with its goals to reduce carbon emissions. But France, the country that played host to the agreement, has been found guilty of failing to meet its commitments under the agreement by a French court. 

The Administrative Tribunal in Paris ruled last week that the nation had failed to meet its commitments under the international treaty, which calls on France to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The case, which was filed by four environmental groups against the government, alleged that France was damaging the environment by not meeting its promises. 

According to CBS News, the court declared the French government guilty of inaction but rejected a claim for damages by the four NGOs behind the lawsuit. Instead of fining the government, the court ordered the government to pay one symbolic euro to the NGOs instead. The French tribunal said that it would decide within two months on whether to recommend any measures in order for the government to meet its commitments. 

The Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015 and named after France's capital city, where the negotiations for the agreement took place. 196 countries agreed to reduce global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, as compared to temperatures in 1990. France agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent of those levels by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. However, last year, France said it was deferring its commitments, causing the four NGOs to sue the government. 

While the NGOs were not awarded any damages, Cécile Duflot, a former cabinet minister who now leads Oxfam France, one of the groups that sued, described the ruling as a “historic victory for climate justice.” The director of Greenpeace France, which was also part of the lawsuit, called it a “political victory.” 

The ruling came as a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron, who campaigned in part on fighting climate change. It was also a source of humiliation for the country, given that the agreement is named after the nation’s capital. 

According to CBS, the French government issued a statement claiming it had “taken note of” the court’s decision, acknowledged that it had not achieved its objectives and promised a new bill to address the climate, to be debated in parliament next month.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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