Environmental Court Cases: Notre Affaire à Tous

Natural Justice has developed a series of summaries of significant court cases from across the world related to climate change and rights of nature. These are designed for the public, policy makers and practitioners and provide a snapshot of cases that are being brought to courts in order to advance the protection and rights of nature, including seeking ways to hold governments accountable for their international commitments to reducing carbon emissions.

Notre Affaire à Tous and Others v. France

In 2018, four non-governmental organisations (Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme, Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Oxfam France) sent a letter of formal notice to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 12 members of the French government as part of a legal proceeding in France known as an action for failure to act. The plaintiffs alleged that the French government’s failure to implement proper measures to effectively address climate change—including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, and limiting energy consumption—violated its statutory duty to act.

In 2019, the French government rejected the plaintiffs’ request and the plaintiffs initiated a lawsuit in the Administrative Court of Paris.

Plaintiffs argued that the government had both general and specific legal duties to act on climate change stemming from the French Charter for the Environment, Articles 2 & 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (guaranteeing the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life, respectively), and the general principle of law providing the right of every person to live in a preserved climate system (stemming from domestic, EU and international law).

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