Climate justice: the French State recognized as responsible for failures in the fight against global warming


In March 2019, four NGO[1] s – united within the collective “L’Affaire du Siècle”[2]  and supported by 2.3 million citizens – brought a case before the Paris Administrative Court (hereinafter “Paris TA”) to have the French State’s failure to act in the fight against global warming recognized (i); to obtain its condemnation to repair their moral damage but also the ecological damage (ii) and to put an end to the State’s failure to meet its obligations (iii).

In its judgment of February 3, 2021, the Paris TA found the French State liable for ecological damage due to its failure to comply with its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – recognized by the IPCC as one of the main causes of global warming.

With regard to the reparation of the ecological damage, the Paris TA rejected the claim for compensation of one symbolic euro claimed by the claimant NGOs, considering on the one hand that they “do not demonstrate that the State would be unable to make reparation in kind for the ecological damage” in accordance with Article 1249 of the Civil Code and on the other hand that such a claim is “unrelated to the importance of the damage”.

The Paris Court of Appeal also ruled that the state of the investigation did not allow it to determine precisely what measures it should order the State to take to stop the damage. It therefore issued a supplemental indictment, with a two-month deadline.

On the other hand, the TA ordered the State to compensate the moral prejudice of the four claimant NGOs, to the amount of one symbolic euro.

For the moment, if this judgment arouses the enthusiasm of some – the Vice-President of the Council of State[3], Bruno Lasserre, considering that it participates in making the public statement “credible” – it also divides the political class, which sees in it the return of a new form of “government by thejudges”. 

In any case, the Law Firm UGGC Avocats and its team specialized in public law and media and communication law are at your disposal for any questions you may have on this subject.

By the IP/IT team of UGGC Law Firm

Decision References: TA Paris, Feb. 3, 2021, Nos. 1904967, 1904968, 1904972, 1904976/4-1(

Source : Les Echos

[1] « Greenpeace France », « la Fondation Nicolas Hulot », « Oxfam France », « Notre Affaire à tous »

[2] See :

[3]Article 1249 of the Civil Code: « La réparation du préjudice écologique s’effectue par priorité en nature. En cas d’impossibilité de droit ou de fait ou d’insuffisance des mesures de réparation, le juge condamne le responsable à verser des dommages et intérêts, affectés à la réparation de l’environnement, au demandeur ou, si celui-ci ne peut prendre les mesures utiles à cette fin, à l’Etat.