The case is part of a lawsuit launched two years ago and the hearing will begin on Thursday, a judicial source confirmed to CNN.
The lawsuit was launched by four NGOs, including Greenpeace France and Oxfam France, following an online petition that garnered 2.3 million signatures – the largest in French history, according to organizers.
Climate activists took to the streets near the Paris administrative tribunal on Thursday morning. Images provided by NGOs showed a giant banner that read: “We are 2.3 million”.
The signatories hope the court “will force the state to take all necessary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) target set by the Paris Agreement, the online petition says.
The Paris Agreement, a pact signed in 2016 by almost every country in the world, aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and to continue efforts to limit it to 1, 5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
Currently, the world is expected to warm by 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.86 degrees Fahrenheit) by the turn of the century, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) – a nonprofit analysis group that tracks the government climate action. This will lead to more extreme storms, heat waves, greater sea level rise and, in many parts of the world, more severe extreme droughts and rainfall.
French activists also want recognition of “the state’s climate inaction, that is to say France’s non-compliance with its commitments”.
“Greenhouse gas emissions under this government’s five-year term have fallen at a rate twice as slow as the trajectories provided by law,” the NGOs said in a joint statement.
In a legal note seen by NGOs and the newspaper Le Monde in June last year, the French environment ministry denied having breached its legal obligations to fight climate change and called for the case to be classified.
One of the arguments put forward by the government is that it cannot be held “solely responsible” for climate change in France, according to quotes from the note published by Le Monde.
“France represents around 1% of the world’s population and emits around 1% of the planet’s greenhouse gases each year,” he says.
“A significant part of this pollution comes from industrial and agricultural activities”, but also “from individual choices and decisions on which it is not always possible to influence”, continues the memo.
CNN has contacted the Department of the Environment for comment.
A verdict in this case is expected within 15 days, the NGOs said in their press release.
Climate change lawsuits have become a global phenomenon, according to a report published in July 2019, with lawsuits filed against governments and corporate interests in 28 countries, according to a report by Grantham Research. Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The researchers found that while the United States was the world leader in climate change litigation, the prevalence of such lawsuits had spread around the world.
Sandrine Amiel and Gaëlle Fournier reported from Paris, France. Jack Guy wrote from London.
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