Top Court Fines French State over Air Pollution Levels

August 10, 2021

France’s highest administrative court on August 6 fined the state 10 million euros ($11.9 million) for failing to improve air quality in several areas of the country, according to a report from Reuters on August 6.

The sanction comes four years after the Conseil d’Etat, which acts as a legal adviser to the executive and as the supreme court for administrative justice, ordered the government to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particles in more than a dozen zones to be in line with European standards.

In its ruling, the court said President Emmanuel Macron’s government had done too little to improve air quality in some zones, with nitrogen dioxide levels still too high in Paris, the capital, and Lyon, France’s second-largest urban area, in 2020.

“The measures undertaken by the government are insufficient to deem that the court’s ruling of 2017 has been fully carried out,” the Conseil d’Etat said in a statement.

Officials at the environment ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

The government had argued it had implemented further measures since July last year to clean up its cities’ air, including additional low emission zones, incentives for electric and hybrid cars and a phasing out of oil-burning boilers.

The court said it could impose further 10 million euro fines every six months until the government met the targets.

Environmental group Les Amis de la Terre, which filed the initial complaint, welcomed the fine and said it was the result of years of pressure on the state by activists and the public.

Greenpeace in France said it was a record fine for the flouting of air quality standards.