On December 17, 2018, four nonprofits sent a “lettre préalable indemnitaire” (letter of formal notice) to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 12 members of the French government, initiating the first stage in a legal proceeding against the French government for inadequate action on climate change. This type of letter is part of a legal proceeding known as “recours en carence fautive” (action for failure to act). According to their press release, the plaintiffs allege that the French government’s failure to implement proper measures to effectively address climate change violated a statutory duty to act.
The four plaintiff groups are Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (FNH), Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous and Oxfam France. The press release argues that the government’s duty to act on climate change can be inferred from the French Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and many other international agreements, (including the Stockholm Declaration, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement). They further infer this right from European legislation, (including the Renewable Energy and Climate Change Package and other EU directives), and domestic policies, (including statutory laws such as Grenelle I and the Act of 17 August 2015 on energy transition for green growth).
The French government has two months to respond to the letter of formal notice and then the plaintiffs will be able to file an appeal before the Administrative Court of Paris.