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In a ruling dated 14 October 2021, the Paris Administrative Court ordered the State to make good of the consequences of its failure to combat climate change. This decision raises questions about the impact of digital technology on the climate.

The "Affair of the Century" is part of a global dynamic: all over the world, citizens are taking legal action to ensure that their fundamental rights are guaranteed in the face of climate change. Thus, several environmental associations have filed petitions before the administrative judge in order to obtain recognition of the French State's failure to combat climate change, to obtain an order to compensate not only their moral prejudice but also the ecological prejudice, and to put an end to the State's failure to meet its obligations.

Unexpectedly and exceptionally, the existence of ecological damage related to climate change was recognized by the administrative court in February 2021. At the time, this decision was seen as having a definite bearing on the responsibility of the State for its insufficient action on climate change, although it remained cautious about the modalities of compensation for ecological damage.

Applying this new principle, the judges at the Hôtel d'Aumont noted on 14 October 2021 that the greenhouse gas emissions cap set by the first carbon budget for the period 2015-2018 had been exceeded by 62 million tonnes of "carbon dioxide equivalent". However, the court found that the substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, although linked to the effects of the Covid-19 health crisis and not to any specific action by the State, partly made it possible to repair the damage. In the end, the court found that the damage continues to be 15 million tonnes of "carbon dioxide equivalent".

Faced with this finding, the court ordered the Government to take all useful sectoral measures likely to repair the damage up to the uncompensated share of greenhouse gas emissions under the first carbon budget. Above all, it appeared to the administrative order that compensation for this damage implied not only the adoption of measures to put an end to it, but also that these measures be implemented within a sufficiently short period of time to prevent the aggravation of the damage observed. The court therefore ordered that the damage of 15 million tonnes of "carbon dioxide equivalent" be compensated by 31 December 2022 at the latest.

The emergence of a climate dispute undeniably contributes to France's climate policy shifting its focus towards more ambitious objectives and means.

However, it is certain that the use of digital technology has an environmental impact that is sometimes unsuspected and it is possible for everyone to reduce their digital footprint on the climate. In this sense, the DATA RING association works for a cleaner data, because like clean energy, we need clean data, and will have the pleasure to unveil its future projects in this field.