2022 Emissions reductions/mitigation European Court of Human Rights France Private and family life Right to life

Carême v. France

On 7 June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights announced the relinquishment of an application against France concerning the municipality of Grande-Synthe to the Court’s Grand Chamber. The applicant in this case, in his capacity as mayor of the municipality of Grande-Synthe, was originally involved in the Grande-Synthe case, but the Conseil d’État held on 19 November 2020 that, unlike the municipality itself, Mr Carême could not prove that he had an interest in bringing proceedings.

This is the second climate case to reach the Court’s Grand Chamber, after the Klimaseniorinnen application. The case was lodged on 28 January 2021, and the Grand Chamber held a public hearing in this case on 29 March 2023, making it the second climate case to be heard by the Court (after KlimaSeniorinnen).

Before the Court, the applicant is arguing that France’s insufficient climate change mitigation measures have violated his rights to life (Article 2 ECHR) and to respect for private and family life (Article 8 ECHR). The Court summarized the applicant’s complaint as follows:

The applicant submits that the failure of the authorities to take all appropriate measures to enable France to comply with the maximum levels of greenhouse gas emissions that it has set itself constitutes a violation of the obligation to guarantee the right to life, enshrined in Article 2 of the Convention, and to guarantee the “right to a normal private and family life”, under Article 8 of the Convention. In particular, the applicant argues that Article 2 imposes an obligation on States to take the necessary measures to protect the lives of persons under their jurisdiction, including in relation to environmental hazards that might cause harm to life. Under Article 8 he argues that by dismissing his action on the grounds that he had no interest in bringing proceedings, the Conseil d’État disregarded his “right to a normal private and family life”. He submits that he is directly affected by the Government’s failure to take sufficient steps in the combat against climate change, since this failure increases the risk that his home might be affected in the years to come, and in any event by 2030, and that it is already affecting the conditions in which he occupies his property, in particular by not allowing him to plan his life peacefully there. He adds that the extent of the risks to his home will depend in particular on the results obtained by the French Government in the prevention of climate change.

The Court’s press release on this case can be found here. Further information on the Court’s approach to these cases can be found here.

Further reading:
For a comment on this case, see Marta Torre-Schaub’s post on Verfassungsblog.

Webcast of the hearing:
To watch a webcast recording of the public hearing in this case, which was held before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 29 March 2023, click here (available in French and English).

Suggested citation:
ECtHR, Carême v. France, no. 7189/21, filed on 28 January 2021, relinquished to the Grand Chamber on 31 May 2022.

Last updated:
29 March 2023

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