Communiqué de presse, Paris 11 juin 2021

During the hearing of the appeal of the city of Grande-Synthe before the Council of State today, the public rapporteur was clear: the State must, from now on, take new measures to reduce French greenhouse gas emissions, and the Council of State must exercise control over the effectiveness of these measures.

If the highest administrative court follows Stéphane Hoynck’s recommendations, the judges should order the State to take, within 9 months, « all appropriate measures to curb the curve of greenhouse gas emissions produced on the national territory in order to ensure its compatibility with the objectives »set out in the law. [1]

« The conclusions of the public rapporteur are obviously very encouraging. I am particularly happy that the first climate action led in France by the city of Grande-Synthe and its former mayor, Damien Carême, to have the illegality of the government’s refusal to act recognized can, if the High Assembly follows its public rapporteur, lead to a historic decision that will thus allow the Council of State and our country to be inscribed in the global history of climate justice. »

Corinne Lepage, lawyer for the town of Grande-Synthe and its former mayor, Damien Carême, co-founder of Huglo Lepage Avocats

« The cities welcome the conclusions of the public rapporteur. In November, the Council of State had asked the State to justify the measures taken, and the elements produced show that these measures are not up to the climate challenges. Since then, German, Dutch and Australian judges have followed the same dynamic, asking the States concerned to be more ambitious and effective in their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. If the public rapporteur is followed, it will be a great victory for all and the State will be made to face its responsibilities, thanks to the mobilization of the communities directly concerned. » Translated with (free version)

Régis Froger, lawyer for the City of Paris and Grenoble

« We can only welcome the conclusions of the public rapporteur. In February, the Administrative Court of Paris recognized that the State was outlawed. The role of justice is to protect society. Judges have an unprecedented opportunity to reaffirm their essential role in democracy and to defend our fundamental rights by holding the State accountable. If, as we hope, the Council of State follows its public rapporteur, the organizations of the Affaire du Siècle will be there to ensure that the judges’ decision is effectively applied, and that France respects its climate commitments. »

Guillaume Hannotin, lawyer representing The Case of the Century

The government’s arguments on the Climate Law are not totally convincing

The public rapporteur did not give a direct opinion on the climate bill, thus respecting the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. However, by asking theCouncil of State to issue an injunction to act, it is sending a strong signal to the government: the climate crisis requires more ambitious actions to put France back on the right track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While the High Council for Climate, the National Council for Ecological Transitionand the Economic, Social and Environmental Council have judged the bill largely insufficient, the State had made it its main line of defense. The cities of Grande-Synthe, Paris and Grenoble, as well as the organizations of the Affaire du Siècle, have also demonstrated, with supporting evidence [2], that the measures provided for in the Climate-Resilience Law, which is currently being examined by the Senate, are far from being up to the challenge.

Final decision expected in a few weeks

The decision, expected in two to three weeks, will be the culmination of a procedure launched in January 2019 [3], by the city of Grande-Synthe, and supported by the organizations of the Affaire du Siècle (Notre Affaire à Tous, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, Greenpeace France, Oxfam France), as well as by the cities of Grenoble and Paris.

The appeal brought by the Affaire du Siècle, in which the administrative court ruled that the State’s inaction was illegal and caused ecological damage, should be judged in the coming months.

These appeals are part of a growing global movement for climate justice: in Germany, for example, the courts recently ordered the government to revise its climate plan, which was deemed insufficient to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions after 2031. Noting the decision, the German government immediately presented new, more ambitious climate targets.

The Council of State is expected to render its decision within two to three weeks.
Corinne Lepage, Damien Carême and the organizations of the Affaire du Siècle will hold an online press conference immediately after the publication of the decision.Please register on this linkto participate. You will receive a text message with the zoom link on the day of the decision.

Note to editors

1] France is committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels (Article L110-4 of the Energy Code as amended by the 2019 Energy-Climate Law).

[2] A study produced by Carbone 4 and submitted to the file by Affaire du Siècle shows that « it is certain that the measures adopted or being considered by the state, particularly in the Climate and Resiliency Bill, will not achieve the overall goal of a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. »

[3] En novembre 2020, dans une décision dite “avant dire droit”, le Conseil d’Etat avait affirmé que les objectifs climatiques de la France sont contraignants. This decision broke with the interpretation made by successive governments that France was not bound by the objectives set out in the law.

Contacts presse

Huglo Lepage Avocats : 

  • Sabine Rozier-Deroche – 06 42 66 45 24

The Case of the Century : 

  • Cécilia Rinaudo – 06 86 41 71 81 (Notre Affaire à Tous)
  • Paula Torrente – 07 87 50 74 90 (Fondation Nicolas Hulot)
  • Kim Dallet – 06 33 58 39 46 (Greenpeace France)
  • Élise Naccarato – 06 17 34 85 68 (Oxfam France)