In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore launched a campaign to educate the world about global warming. Nine years later, the Paris Accord Treaty was adopted by 196 countries, with the goal to reduce global carbon emissions and lower global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius. The goal also requires social and economic change bolstered by political and private sector will. This difficult but necessary transformation went into affect November 2016.
Since then, the U.S. has signed onto, backed out of, and signed back onto the treaty. More predictable, due to production and shipments of pandemic PPE, is that China’s carbon-intensive industries increased the countries carbon emissions by 0.8% in 2020. However, what is most surprising is that Paris is not living up to its name-sake treaty.
The courts of France determined that the “Government has failed its carbon emissions reduction objectives.” A lawsuit was brought by four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in March 2019; Oxfam, Greenpeace, Notre Affaire a Tous, and the Foundation for Nature. In an open letter published in Le Monde newspaper (December, 27, 2018), it was reported that the NGO’s presented a petition with 1.8 million signatures to the courts. The petition accused the government and President Emmanuel Macron of “carence fautive,” or faulty deficiency of State i.e., failure to meet the objectives in the Paris Accord. Macron’s aggressive and transformative goals for France included 2020 markers of 14% reduction in greenhouse gases, 20% less overall energy consumption, and 23% increase in renewable energies. Additional filings were brought to French oil company, Total.
The four NGOs collectively filed the lawsuit under the name “L’Affaire du Siecle,” or “Case of the Century.” It is aptly named, though this action may spark climate-change lawsuits in other countries around the world. Greta Thunberg and 15 youth from 12 different countries filed a legal complaint against five countries in the fall of 2019 at the opening of the UN General Assembly. Those countries include Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Germany, and France.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified in 1989 ensures children the right to life, health, and peace. Man-made climate change would destroy life as we know it. The case was the first of its kind in history to be filed by children for children, and was deemed admissible. The case brought by L’Affaire du Siecle filed its case on the basis of the French Civil Code, articles 1247 to 1252 . The articles loosely state that ecological damage was done which detracts from the collective benefits of life, and that any person, group, or territory affected has the right to demand action to compensate for ecological damage or a fine sufficient enough for claimants to make repairs.
Although the cases may not lead to outcomes sought, they are likely to cause governments and industry to think seriously about adhering to the Paris Accord Treaty going forward, as the world is paying attention.