Council of State says it will assess state’s actions after 31 March 2022, and could issue fines if needed
France’s top administrative court has ordered the government to take “all necessary additional steps” within the next nine months to enable it to reach its climate crisis target or face possible sanctions, including substantial fines.
The Council of State said in a final ruling published on Thursday, with no possibility for appeal by the government, that France was not on track to meet its goal of achieving a 40% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.
“The Council of State therefore instructs the government to take additional measures between now and 31 March 2022 to hit the target,” it said.
The BBC has performed a U-turn and amended one of its educational pages after criticism over text that highlighted “positive effects of climate change”.
The broadcaster was called to task by leading environmentalist George Monbiot who condemned the messaging on its Bitesize page which said climate change is good because more resources, such as oil, would become available “in places such as Alaska and Siberia when the ice melts”.
It also stated that warmer temperatures “could lead to healthier outdoor lifestyles”, particularly in the UK.
However, just a few hours later, the page had been edited to remove all “positive effects” and now just focuses on the negative aspects, including the risk of some species becoming extinct, rising sea levels and an increase in diseases such as malaria.
The BBC told i it had “reviewed the page and are amending the content to be in line with current curricula”.
BBC Bitesize is the BBC’s free online study support resource for school-age pupils in the UK, designed to aid pupils of all ages in both schoolwork and exams.
Mr Monbiot thanked everyone who had commented on and shared his tweet and added: “The BBC has now dropped that ridiculous list of “positive” aspects of our global catastrophe. But two questions remain: why did it think this fossil fuel propaganda was an appropriate teaching tool, and why did it ignore previous requests to change it?”
He then said: “To those seeking to blame this on the exam boards: no, this nonsense didn’t come from them, but was developed independently by the BBC. I think, as licence payers, we have a right to know how, why and by whom.”
The BBC told i the page had been amended and there was nothing more to add.
This also came on the day the Queen made a significant intervention on climate change as she and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal visited the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) – her final engagement as part of the traditional Royal Week visit to Scotland.
Mr Monbiot had earlier highlighted one of the Bitesize pages, aimed at GCSE pupils, which focuses on climate change and the effects of a rise in the Earth’s temperature due to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The writer and activist took to his Twitter page to call out the BBC and wrote: “This is what @bbcbitesize is teaching our children about climate breakdown.
“I’m sorry, but it’s an absolute disgrace. You could come away thinking: ‘on balance, it sounds pretty good’. It could have been written by Exxon.”
Exxon, or ExxonMobil, is a US multinational oil and gas corporation
“The BBC has a long and disgraceful history of both-sidesing the greatest threat to life on Earth. Every so often, it puts out a memo claiming it has got its act together. Then it fails again. People who make this content believe “neutrality” = impartiality. It’s the opposite.
“Here is one of the ‘positive’ aspects of the collapse of our life support systems it lists: ‘more resources, such as oil, becoming available in places such as Alaska and Siberia when the ice melts’.
“Are they actually trying to misdirect and bamboozle GCSE students?”
Another “positive effect” BBC Bitesize cites is “new tourist destinations becoming available, to which Mr Monbiot quipped: “Birmingham-on-Sea?”
And he soon got his followers talking as one said: “Old tourist destinations can repackage as diving holidays.”
To which another referred to three British nuclear power stations and replied: “The sea will be particularly warm around Sizewell, Berkley, Dungeness… a lot of heat in flooded nuclear reactors. Year-round watersports!”
Oil and gas producers including ExxonMobil, BP and Shell lobbied a government minister to keep burning natural gas for years - even though the UK is committed to reaching net zero damaging greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The companies described continued use of the fossil fuel as “a necessary compromise”.
Representatives from the three gas giants, plus Chevron and Equinor, used a dinner with then-trade minister Conor Burns in February last year to argue the fossil fuel industry should be seen as a “vital” part of the solution to climate change.
They also encouraged a “greater recognition for the role of gas in transition” to a lower carbon future, because it was “cleaner than coal and is fundamental to the Texas economy”.
The International Energy Agency has warned there can be no new gas development if the world is to reach net zero by 2050 and stay within safe limits of global heating.
The methane emitted by gas is 84-86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
And a UN report earlier this year said that slashing methane emissions would be the strongest action possible in the world to slow global warming.
In the memo, Mr Hyde says the firms argued that “moving the US and the developing world from coal to gas is a necessary compromise, while they make inroads in affordability of genuinely clean energy”.
The government has banned the installation of oil and gas boilers in new homes from 2025 to try to meet the 2050 target.
BP, Equinor and Chevron all defended their lobbying, telling Channel 4 News they were committed to a cleaner energy future and reducing carbon emissions.
Shell, Chevron, Equinor and ExxonMobil all said they support the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.
Shell said: “We make no apology for talking to policymakers and regulators around the world about climate change and how to tackle it – business must be part of the solution.”
BP said gas was “an important part of our business and has a critical role to play in the transition to net zero” - but that its strategy includes a fall in global oil and gas production and a tenfold rise in renewables by 2030.
Equinor too said it was “accelerating our own transition away from fossil energy sources to renewable ones”.
ExxonMobil said oil and gas would “continue to play a critical role in meeting the world’s demand for energy”, noting that “many national and state governments have included a shift to natural gas in their carbon-reduction programmes, recognising the contribution that natural gas can make”.
The Foreign Office told Channel 4 News the meeting was “a routine engagement with the energy industry”.
“We discussed their investments in renewable energies and their decarbonisation plans, and we were not lobbied.”
Last week, Channel 4 News aired covert recordings of a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist claiming that the company had secretly fought against climate change legislation.
Further footage appeared to show the firm also lobbied against action on plastic waste.
Speaking to undercover Greenpeace reporters, he also appeared to admit that Exxon produced products containing highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as “for ever” chemicals, which remain in the environment.
The Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment, Rep Ro Khanna, told Channel 4 News he was prepared to take steps to ensure ExxonMobil executives appeared before his committee to discuss the issues raised.
There's just no political will to do anything. Nuclear has been mentioned as a non-carbon emitting source of energy since we first began to discuss global warming. Yes, it has problems; we have no good solution for nuclear waste; there's the danger of exposure to nuclear pollution through natural disaster or terrorism; nuclear power is capital intensive. There are some newly-emerging nuclear technologies that might address these problems successfully. But as soon as anyone even hears the word "nuclear" people seek refuge in their ideological bunker.
There's just no political will to do anything.
But as soon as anyone even hears the word "nuclear" people seek refuge in their ideological bunker.
That's one of the reasons why I don't take the left seriously on global warming.