Last Wednesday, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris ruled that France’s failure to meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments have caused “ecological damage.” In order to meet its emissions reduction targets under the Paris Climate Accords, France had passed domestic laws promising to decrease emissions by 1.5% annually and 3% annually beginning in 2025. However, according to France’s High Council on Climate, these goals have yet to be achieved. Taking this into consideration, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris ruled in favor of the claimants, a group of four environmental organizations—Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, and Notre Affaire à Tous (New York Times).

As part of its decision, the court announced that it will conduct a two-month investigation of the damages caused by the state’s climate negligence. The results will be used to determine whether further action will be needed to force future compliance (Jurist). In the meantime, the decision remains primarily symbolic, awarding the claimant environmental groups a payment of one euro ($1.20) each to compensate for the “moral damage” caused by the government’s inaction (Reuters).

It remains unclear whether France will choose to appeal the decision (New York Times). In a written exchange with CNN, France’s Minister of Environment agreed that the country had failed to meet its first set of climate objectives. However, he noted that a new bill on climate and resilience, to be presented to the Council of Ministers on February 10, “will constitute a decisive new step by accelerating France's ecological transition" (CNN).