Damien Carême, the mayor ecologist of Grande-Synthe (Nord), is again talking to him. In early 2016, despite the hostility of the prefectural services, the municipal official had built with the NGO Doctors without borders more than 200 wooden cottages designed to accommodate with dignity the refugees who were camped up there on a marshy terrain of the commune. Three years later, he seized the Council of State to denounce the” climate inaction ” of the State. Maintenance.
The Point : You have lodged an appeal for reconsideration before the Council of State in November. That ‘ s happened since ?
Damien Lent : It nothing happened. I have received no phone call, no mail. This is the reason for which I entered today to the justice. I would say that this denotes the way in which the government considers the mayors. It is put to contribution for the organization of the great debate, but, as soon as the elected officials field questions, it brings them no response.
Is there therefore a link between your action and the crisis of the yellow Vests ?
Everything is connected. The social movement is part of a protest against a tax on the diesel. It is today on a more overall better redistribution of wealth. This social project is not contrary with the objective of preservation of the environment. A system of targeted support may allow, for example, better insulation of dwellings, which would be beneficial for the planet, but it would also and above all to make the “power to live” (the mayor of Grande-Synthe prefer to use this expression rather than ” purchasing power “, ED) to individuals. It is in this spirit that I recently created, in my commune, a guaranteed social minimum : a device that takes into account the number of persons of each household, and that translates into practice in aid to the energy in food aid… to lift people out of poverty. Ultimately, I hope that nobody living in my town with less than 855 euros per month.
to return to your reference to the Council of State, that reproach you mean the government ? On what legal basis, your application is based ? I have read that you think your community was threatened with submersion by the waters. Is this serious ?
We are in the territory of the polder, close to the sea. If the State doesn’t quickly applying the international agreement of Paris, the rise in the water level is going to blow the dikes. Yes, Grande-Synthe is in danger. But our territory is not the only one threatened. The government does not do enough in the fight against global warming and climate change is undermining the future of our commons. It was well seen during the winter storm Xaver, 2013 : the waves léchaient the storefronts of the shops in Malo-les-Bains near Dunkirk, editor’s NOTE). On the legal side, there is a concept, the concept of “deficiency, fault,” which has been used in several files : asbestos, contaminated blood, or soil pollution. In each of these cases, the judges said that the State had the obligation to establish a framework for protecting citizens and the environment. In this case, we call for the recognition of a fault of the State, which would be accompanied by an injunction action to fulfil the objectives set out in the international agreements signed by France. And to ensure the fair contribution of our country to the path to 1.5 °C.
also Read Climate : the terrible impacts of a warming of + 1.5 °C
This is not the first time that you engage in a standoff with l ‘É tat. You have already done in January 2016, when you announced your desire to create a camp that meets the standards of the united Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). Are you looking for advertising ?
Take charge, as I did, 2 500 people, including 300 children, who lived in the mud and among the rats, but also that posed a threat to the disease, I would not say that it is advertising. It is rather to respond to a humanitarian emergency. You and me, I’d be well past this story. This decision was hard to take. I’ve also taken the time to think before you act. But, at one point, I could no longer sit idly by. Regarding the climate, the city takes its part in this fight, but it cannot act alone. Now I see with dismayed the production thresholds of CO2 increase each year from 2016. The government takes no measures to restrict imports of palm oil, of which we know, however, that they contribute to deforestation and therefore contribute to the problem. Worse, the administration allows projects of open-pit mines in the Amazon ! Not only the State does nothing to combat global warming, but it is taking actions that are harmful to the environment. There was a time, it is necessary to say ” stop “. And this is why the citizens are mobilising through marches or petitions. The last in date has collected over 2 million signatures.
NGO, precisely, have started legal action against the State in December. Why, in these conditions, you provide your turn in court ?
Because it is important that a community undertakes. Each has its role to play. My approach is not in contradiction with theirs. They accumulate all. The range is so comprehensive in the representation of our democracy.
Your action is supported by other communities, municipal, departmental or regional ?
Not to my knowledge. But I got mails of mayors who support me.
Why do you think you will not be more supported ?
It is up to the other elected officials that we need to ask the question. But I have a feeling that the mayors are already doing a lot in the fight against global warming. Especially if one considers what is required of them in addition to assume from that the State is exiting…
In the world, the lawsuits multiply. Y a-t-it which resulted ?
in the Face of climate change, recourse to justice is increasing, in fact. According to the Grantham Research Institute, more than 270 business climate are under consideration in 25 jurisdictions outside the United States, where the litigation has reached more than 800 cases. A total of more than a thousand lawsuits have focused on climate issues since 2007. In the netherlands, in 2015, a court seised by the NGO Urgenda and 900 citizens, ordered the State to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the country by 25% by 2020. This judgment was confirmed on appeal in October. It is this court victory, which introduces new provisions in the climate of administrative law… which pushed me to act. I met the lawyer who argued the case.
Only 16 countries on 197 adhere to the Paris agreement ! France is not the only one at fault. What about other States ?
France can also lead by example. If everyone says that it is to his neighbor to begin with, nobody will do anything. The initial scenario was to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. however, it is now on a trend of + 3 °C. The United States and Australia are, of course, removed from the Paris agreement, but the citizens of these countries will now return against their rulers to hold them accountable.
The western countries will not be able to adjust only this global problem…
the countries of The third world are the most affected by this environmental crisis. These are not necessarily the biggest producers of CO2. Once again, everyone should take his part in this fight. NGOS are pursuing a number of States : Pakistan to Colombia, to Uganda, Indonesia, South Africa…
do you really Think that a condemnation of the ‘tat will make her change ? Don’t you fear that your action is a blow of sword in the water ?
in The netherlands, things have changed since the court injunction which has been pronounced by the courts against the Dutch State. In France too, in the condemnation of the State by the european Court of human rights (in terms of air quality, editor’s NOTE) has forced the government to take concrete measures. All that the judges have clearly said that it was here an obligation of result and not of means, which was the responsibility of the authorities, and penalties in the billions of euros. The current minister of the Environment is often stated that this is not by the justice that the issue of global warming will… I believe, on the contrary, that the threat of sanctions will move the politicians.
” You have said that you do représenteriez not in the next municipal elections, in 2020. Is this still your intention ?
Yes. I may also leave the hall earlier than planned, because I am a candidate in the forthcoming european elections. I will be in the third position on the list of Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV). If I am elected, I will have to pass the baton to Grande-Synthe. But the idea is that I use the same ideas to the european Parliament in Strasbourg.On the same topic Climate : France is attacked in justice by NGOS