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Creating a Defender of the Environment, real progress or a "false good idea"?


DECRYPTION - A bill aimed at creating an Environmental Defender is being examined on Wednesday February 1 by several deputies. The project does not meet with consensus.

A controversial bill.

A left-wing parliamentary niche has drafted a constitutional bill to create an Environmental Defender.

His goal ?

Defend and protect environmental law, which

“suffers from too limited an application [...] in a context of ecological crisis.

The text specifies that “

barely 10% of legislative measures have been followed by the publication of application decrees.


This bill is being examined on Wednesday 1 February by the Commission for Constitutional Laws, Legislation and the General Administration of the Republic.

It stems from one of the recommendations of the Citizens' Climate Convention and was supported by former Renaissance MP Cécile Muschotti in 2021. It is inspired by the model of the Defender of Rights, whose function is to defend the interests of citizens vis-à-vis the administrations.

Here, the environment would be embodied by its own entity which would defend its rights.

Some experts see the creation of this Defender, independent of the State, as good news.

For others, the solution does not lie in legislation.

Instead, according to them, we should give the means to act to the institutions that already exist.


François Gemenne, researcher in environmental governance, congratulates this project because the environmental laws aimed at protecting nature are, according to him, “

poorly applied in France

” and often “

scorned for the benefit of economic interests.

The climate can never file a complaint and is only rarely defended against special interests

,” he laments.

This is why creating this post of Defender would be “

very useful.

One of its functions would be to "

point out the discrepancies between the law and the application of the law


But above all,

“he will play a counter-power role that can stand up to the government, for example.

To do this, the person chosen to become this Defender must be, according to him, “

dynamic and autonomous in the face of possible pressures.


Read alsoWhen the environmental police push farmers to the limit

This notion of independence for more “


” in the face of economic actors and the State comes up several times in the text of the bill.

Today, it is the Ministry of Ecology which proposes and monitors laws

”, recalls Marta Torre Schaub, research director at the CNRS and lawyer at the Institute of Legal and Philosophical Sciences of the Sorbonne Paris 1 "

This Defender would therefore embody an independent body that would not depend on the ministry and would ensure that collective rights are protected


As a reminder, the Defender of Rights, on the contrary, “

guarantees the individual rights of citizens


Move the law in the right direction

Other functions of the Environmental Defender mentioned in the bill are also welcomed by the researcher and lawyer.

In particular the fact that it is responsible for "

enforcing the principle of non-regression

", i.e. "

we will no longer be able to adopt laws which lead to a regression in the progress of the preservation of nature.

But only devices that improve it.


Several vice-presidents of the Defender of the environment would also be responsible for monitoring the “

planetary limits


Defined in 2009, “

they correspond to the thresholds that humanity must not exceed

” to avoid depleting natural resources, specifies the text.

They revolve around "

nine processes regulating the stability and resilience of the Earth system

", including climate change, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion... This idea of ​​monitoring resources "

is not new

, recalls Marta Torre Schaub.

But it is very interesting


Nevertheless, the research director wonders about the desire, to form this Defender, to merge the various environmental institutions that already exist, such as the High Council for the Climate, the Nuclear Safety Authority or the regional environmental authority missions.

According to the text, this would allow “

better readability of our decision-making bodies for our fellow citizens.

» For Marta Torre Schaub, «

this point should be re-discussed precisely because it is not very clear for the citizens.

In addition, the jurist wonders: “

How to merge such institutions which have very specific and independent functions?


“False good idea”

Antoine Gatet, vice-president of France nature environment, believes that creating this position of Defender is “

a false good idea.

He was consulted around a round table last week by the left-wing deputies behind the text and the rapporteur for the law Gérard Leseul.

For him, "

this proposal is not accomplished on the merits because it goes in all directions

", and the work of political figures "

could have been better


Moreover, "

administratively, there is little chance that the proposal will go very far

", he believes.

The subject would be “


” in the list of proposals from the parliamentary niche.

If he agrees with the idea of ​​wanting to better defend the environment, the way in which the deputies want to go about it does not convince him.

The real problem in this project of Defender resides, according to him, in the fact “

that it is useless to create new institutions

” because “

the defenders already exist


“It is associations like us.

It could already be interesting to recognize us a little more and to give us the means to work

”, annoys Antoine Gatet.

For environmental laws to be applied, the solution would therefore be, for him, to

“give the means to act to State services, justice and associations


Read alsoMarc Fontecave: “To save the environment, France must define and assume a nuclear policy”

For the lawyer, individualizing the function of preserving the environment, centralized around "

a superhero

", is not the right solution: "

In reality, there are institutions and highly motivated people who do the job


It is this erroneous vision of the deputies on the current situation, according to Antoine Gatet, which pushed him to go to the round table.

With Greenpeace, we recalled the stakes and gave the keys so that they have a good knowledge of the problems.

It is never useless to put the subject back on the table


Source: lefigaro

All tech articles on 2023-02-01

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