French politician Corinne Lepage trained as a lawyer before setting up a practice specialized in public and environmental law, where she made her name defending victims of the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in 1978. She went to defend victims of the Erika disaster in 1999 (which is still at trial). She was also a founding member of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering. In 1995, she was made Environment minister in the French government just as France was taking over the presidency of the Council. She spent two years as the head of the ministry, where her achievements included a major overhaul of the air legislation. She helped set up the prevention and precaution committee, and put in the place the first national sustainable development strategy in 1997, removed public powers from the asbestos committee, prevented the relaunch of the Superphénix nuclear project, and pushed through a moratorium on GMOs. In 2008, she oversaw a report for the French government on “Environmental Governance” which included more than 80 recommendations, with ten headline measures designed to boost French confidence in information about the environment, including proposals to improve such information, strengthen the requirements for specialist studies, and clarify responsibility for pollution, all of which was presented during the French Council presidency in 2008.
She has often acted as an expert at the European level (including on the 6th Environmental Action Programme) and was named on a UNEP list in 2006 of the ten most important women for the environment in Europe.
She teaches at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, where she heads the sustainable development section.
In 1996 she set up a CAP 21, a think tank that subsequently turned into a political party. She stood as a candidate during the French presidential elections in 2002 as a centre-right candidate, and supported François Bayrou in 2007. She was elected to the European parliament in June 2009, where she is part of the ALDE group. She was appointed vice chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and is a substitute on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. In December 2009 and 2010, she was part of the official delegation of 15 MEPs in Copenhagen for COPCo 15, and the others delegations in Cancun, Durban, Doha and Varsaw.
In the ALDE group she is closely involved with the directives concerning GMO, IPPC, RoHS, WEEE, novel foods, information for consumers, and on themes such as climate change, the energy mix, independent appraisals, the link between health and the environment, the freedom of the web, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.
Her knowledge of maritime matters enabled her to found the intergroup on “Seas and coastal zones” in the European Parliament, a group she has chaired since January 2010.
In March 2010, alongside some thirty figures who have served as environment ministers around the world, she set up another think tank (the association of ex-ministers of the Environment and ex-directors of international environmental organizations) to study problems concerning international ecological governance.