Décision de justice

Greenhouse gas emissions: the Conseil d’État annuls the Government’s refusal to take additional measures and orders it to take these measures before 31 March 2022

The municipality of Grande-Synthe and several associations asked the Conseil d'État to annul the Government’s refusal to take additional measures to reach the target resulting from the Paris Agreement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The Conseil d'État upheld their application, noting firstly that the decrease in emissions in 2019 was small and that the decrease in 2020 was not significant because economic activity had been reduced by the health crisis and that, secondly, compliance with the trajectory, which provides for a 12% decrease in emissions over the period 2024-2028, does not appear to be achievable if new measures are not adopted quickly. The Conseil d'État therefore orders the Government to take additional measures by 31 March 2022 to achieve the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.

The matter was referred by the municipality of Grande-Synthe (Nord) and several associations (Oxfam France, Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire A Tous, Fondation Nicolas Hulot) to the Conseil d’État which, last November 191, gave the Government three months in which to provide evidence showing that the greenhouse gas reduction trajectory for 2030 (-40% compared to 1990) could be met without additional measures. Following the disclosure of new information by the Government, a new inter partes investigation was opened and a public hearing was held on 11 June at the Conseil d'État.

2019-2020: a relative decrease in greenhouse gases

To achieve the Paris Agreement’s reduction target of -40% compared to 1990 levels, the Government has adopted a trajectory covering 4 periods (2015-2018, 2019-2023, 2024-2028 and 2029-2033), each with its own reduction targets.

The Conseil d’État observes that the level of emissions measured in 2019 is in line with the annual target set for the period 2019-2023. However, the observed decrease in emissions of 0.9% appears limited compared to the reduction targets for the previous period (2015-2018) which were 1.9% per year and compared to the targets set for the next period (2024-2028) which are 3% per year.

Provisional data for 2020 show a significant decrease in emissions. However, this decrease is largely due to the effects of lockdown on activity and must, as noted by the Supreme Climate Council (HCC), be considered as “provisional” and “subject to rebound” and does not of itself guarantee that the trajectory set in order to achieve the 2030 objectives can be respected.

Additional efforts are needed in the short term to reach the target of a 12% reduction in emissions between 2024 and 2028

The Conseil d’État notes that France’s national strategy provides for a 12% reduction in emissions for the period 2024-2028 compared to just 6% between 2019 and 2023. It believes that it is clear from the various elements submitted and in particular the opinions published between 2019 and 2021 by the General Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CGEDD), the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (EESC) and the HCC that this 12% reduction target will not be achieved if new measures are not adopted in the short term. 

The Conseil d’État also notes that the agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in April 2021 raised the target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 40% to 55% compared to their 1990 level.

Finally, the Conseil d’État notes that the Government admits that the measures currently in place do not make it possible to achieve the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 since it is counting on the measures provided for in the draft “Climate and Resilience” Act to achieve this objective.

Given the absence of any additional measures in force today that would make it possible to comply with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction trajectory, the Conseil d'État upheld the petition filed by the applicants and ordered the government to take all appropriate measures to achieve the target resulting from the Paris Agreement by 31 March 2022. 

1Conseil d’État decision No. 427301 of 19 November 2020

Download French Ordinance No. 427301