More than 1.7 million people have signed a petition in favor of suing the French government, accusing it of inaction on climate change.
Four NGOs—Oxfam, Greenpeace, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme—have initiated legal proceedings saying France has defaulted on its environmental obligations. The initial Dec.18 filing gives the government two months to formulate a response, after which the organizations can choose to move forward with their lawsuit (link in French) in administrative court.
Marie Toussaint, president of Notre Affaire à Tous (In Our Common Interest), says the coalition is determined to get its day in court. “It would take a lot for us not to go to court, and we are actually determined to go all the way and win,” she told Quartz.
The petition’s success, which the four organizations have called ”unprecedented,” is a sign of growing anxiety in France and elsewhere over the rapidly increasing pace of climate change. It is also the latest example of citizens using legal systems to try to force governments to keep their environmental promises.
An environmental crisis in France
President Emmanuel Macron pledged to do more to combat global warming than previous governments. Activists say he has not delivered. Nicholas Hulot, Macron’s ex-ecology minister and founder of Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (Foundation for Nature and Man), one of the four NGOs suing the French government, quit on live radio in August because he said he could not stand to watch the planet get “relegated to the status of last priorities.” And France has consistently fallen short (link in French) of the environmental commitments it made after the Paris Climate Conference.