The affair of the century? France’s Urgenda Moment.

In March 2019, various NGOs lodged four charges before the administrative court of Paris against the French State in respect of its deficiencies in the fight against climate change, and sought reparation for their moral damage, for ecological damage. Last Wednesday the court ruled that the action for compensation for ecological damage, provided for by the civil code, was admissible and open against the State. The court held that the State should be held responsible for part of this damage if it had not respected its commitments in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It rejected the claim for compensation for ecological damage and stressed that such compensation is primarily in kind, the damages being pronounced only in the event of impossibility or insufficient repair measures. 

However, the applicants were justified in requesting compensation in kind for the ecological damage caused by non-compliance with the objectives set by France in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A two month period for additional investigation was ordered to determine the measures to be ordered to the State to repair the damage caused or prevent its aggravation.

Finally, the court considered that the shortcomings of the State in respecting its commitments in the fight against global warming undermined the collective interests defended by each of the applicant associations, and awarded each of the NGOs the sum of one euro which each had requested by way of compensation. 

The judgment, in French, is to be found here: 1904967-1904968-1904972-1904976

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Professor Simon Baughen

Professor Simon Baughen was appointed as Professor of Shipping Law in September 2013 (previously Reader at the University of Bristol Law School). Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law for several years before joining academia. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law, but also include the law of trusts and the environmental law implications of the activities of multinational corporations in the developing world. Simon's book on Shipping Law, has run to five editions and is already well-known to academics and students alike as by far the most learned and approachable work on the subject. Furthermore, he is now the author of the very well-established practitioner's work Summerskill on Laytime. He has an extensive list of publications to his name, including International Trade and the Protection of the Environment. He has also written and taught extensively on commercial law, trusts and environmental law. Simon will be a member of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, a University Research Centre within the School of Law, and he will teach on both the LLM (Carriage of Goods by Sea, Land and Air and Oil and Gas Law) and LLB programmes at Swansea.

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