On January 23, 2019, the municipality of Grande-Synthe sued the French government for insufficient action on climate change. The suit was filed in the Conseil d'Etat, the highest administrative court in France. According to an English summary of the case provided by the plaintiffs, the suit alleges that the French government’s failure to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions violates domestic and international law, including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Paris Agreement, the French Environmental Code, and the French Environmental Charter. Plaintiffs stress that particular vulnerability of Grande-Synthe to the impacts of climate change as a low-lying coastal municipality exposed to sea level rise and flooding. According to the plaintiffs’ case summary, Grande-Synthe asks the Conseil d'Etat to direct the government to take legislative and regulatory measures to prioritize action on climate change and to prohibit actions that would increase greenhouse gas emissions. This case is one of two filed in France during early 2019 against the French government for climate inaction and that follows logic set by the 2018 Urgenda decision in the Netherlands. The other case, Notre Affaire à Tous and Others v. France, was filed by nonprofit organizations.
At Issue: Whether the French government’s failure to take further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions violates domestic and international law