Date of text
Sabin Center
Court name
Administrative Supreme Court
Reference number
N ° 421004
Climate Change

On December 18, 2019, the French Administrative Supreme Court upheld a decision to include an expiration date in a fossil fuel mining permit.

In early 2018, IPC Petroleum France SA applied for an extension of its existing fossil fuel extraction permit. The extension was granted, but only until January 1, 2040. Under law n° 2017-1839 of December 30, 2017, new research and exploitation of fossil fuels is not allowed in France in light of its Paris Agreement commitments, and existing hydrocarbon mining permits cannot be extended beyond January 1, 2040.

The Company brought this action against the government, alleging that placing an expiration date on its mining permit interfered with the company’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of property implied by article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and that the French Mining Code allows a permit to be renewed beyond 2040 for economic reasons.

The Court dismissed IPC Petroleum France's request, concluding that although the Mining Code does permit a further extension, it provides a precise definition of the appropriate circumstances in which to do so and requires balancing the extension against general public interest. The Court ruled that the January 1, 2040, deadline, more than 20 years after the adoption of the December 30, 2017 law, appropriately balanced the Company’s right to enjoy its property against France's commitment to limit climate change.

Key environmental legal questions

Whether placing an eventual expiration date on a fossil fuel mining permit in service of national mitigation goals violates the permit holder’s right to peaceful enjoyment of property.