Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

French climate activists

Climate campaigners in France celebrated a court order requiring the French government to meet its climate commitments on October 14, 2021. (Photo: Notre Affaire à Tous/Twitter)

'Justice Is With Us!': Climate Groups Cheer French Court Order to Cut Emissions

"We owe this... to the unprecedented mobilization of the 2.3 million people who supported the Case of the Century."

Jessica Corbett

Climate campaigners across France celebrated Thursday after the administrative court of Paris ordered the French government to honor its commitments to cut planet-heating emissions and "repair the ecological damage for which it is responsible" by the end of next year.

The Case of the Century, or l'Affaire du Siècle, was launched three years ago by four advocacy groups: Oxfam France, Notre Affaire à Tous, Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme, and Greenpeace France.

"We won," tweeted Oxfam France executive director Cécile Duflot. "The state must not only make up for the delay but also repair the damage!"

Greenpeace, in a tweet, called the court's ruling "another significant step forward in the growing wave of climate litigation around the world."

The coalition behind the case also welcomed the development, noting that any future president who doesn't respect the country's climate commitments would not only expose the French people to "the increasingly devastating and costly impacts of climate change," but also risk additional court cases.

"From today forward, any slippage on the greenhouse gas reduction trajectory can be punished by the courts in the event of another delay," the coalition said. "The state now has an obligation to achieve results for the climate."

"We owe this necessary break with climate policy such as it is now to the judges who took up the climate issue and to the unprecedented mobilization of the 2.3 million people who supported the Case of the Century," they added, acknowledging signers of a related petition.

Supporters of the case gathered in Paris Thursday morning with large letters that read: "Climate: justice is with us!"

France—a signatory to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2100—has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The court found that from 2015 to 2018, France overshot its national carbon budget by 15 million tons of CO2 equivalent, and ordered the government to make up for it by December 31, 2022.

The new ruling follows a February decision that found France was failing to meet its climate commitments. At the time, Oxfam's Duflot called the ruling a "historic victory" that "sets an important legal precedent" and expressed hope that the "breakthrough" would lead the courts to "compel the government to take further steps to reduce emissions and ensure that France is living up to its commitments," a wish that was fulfilled Thursday.

Agence France-Presse noted that the latest decision also comes after a July ruling in which "France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, ordered the government to take measures by March 31, 2022, to honor its commitments in terms of greenhouse gas reductions."

As Greenpeace France director Jean-Francois Julliard told journalists on Thursday: "Now the court system is becoming an ally in our fight against climate change."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Terrible Idea': Biden Preparing to Shift Costs of Covid Treatments, Vaccines to Patients

"We must push back," said one doctor. "Free provision of vaccinations, Paxlovid, and monoclonals has been critically important."

Kenny Stancil ·


Trump-Appointed Judge Permanently Blocks Biden's Oil and Gas Leasing Moratorium

Fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters has accounted for an estimated 25% of all U.S. carbon emissions since 2005.

Jake Johnson ·


In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·


Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo