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Enough Inaction: Green Groups Sue to Make France Act Boldly on Climate Crisis

"We still have a choice, and the possibility of saving the world"

Demonstrators take part in a climate march on Oct. 13, 2018 in Paris.

Demonstrators take part in a climate march on Oct. 13, 2018 in Paris. (Photo: Jeanne Menjoulet/flickr/cc)

Four advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against France on Thursday for failing to take necessary action to tackle the climate crisis.

The French groups—Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (FNH), Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Oxfam France—filed their case, which they've dubbed "l'Affaire du siècle" or the case of the century, in the administrative court of Paris.

Boosting support for their action is an online petition, which has already gathered over 2 million signatures, as well as a YouTube campaign video with noted figures including Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche.

To boot, there's a "march of the century" demanding climate justice planned for Saturday, March 16. Over 130 actions have been planned, organizers say.

"We still have a choice, and the possibility of saving the world," said Jean-Baptiste Bosse at a press conference Thursday on the suit. "We're up against the greatest challenge in the history of mankind; as a scientist or as a citizen, I simply do not have the choice not to commit myself."

The "reality of the climate urgency" is clear, the groups said in an earlier press statement (pdf) announcing the legal action. As is the nation's failure to act, given that every administration since the 1960s "has repeatedly postponed the adoption of adequate policies that could have helped avoid the climate catastrophe."

They added:

Despite its long-term involvement in global climate talks, France is not taking further steps to successfully tackle climate change: in this perspective, it should be reminded that the French state committed to do everything in its power to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C (and eventually, below 1.5° C), by ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement and many other European programs focused on greenhouse gases reduction and renewable and sustainable energy. France has failed to respect both its international commitments and its own national climate policies.

"We want the French state's commitments and stated ambitions to be translated into concrete action," Noelie Coudurier, who director of Oxfam France's climate section, told FRANCE 24. "And in order to enforce this, we need the courts to recognize the state's responsibility in failing to meet its targets."

The outcome of the case won't be decided quickly, however. The groups say there's a two-year wait time before a judges hears the case and decides whether it should move forward.

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