The Irish High Court has ruled in favour of the Irish government after an environmental NGO challenged its 2017 National Mitigation Plan on climate change as being violation, EU and international obligations.
The case was taken by Irish organisation Friends of the Environment (under the name ‘Climate Case Ireland’) and followed multiple examples of litigation taken against governments by environmental groups – perhaps most famously in the Netherlands, where the ‘Urgenda’ campaign saw the Dutch courts order the government to improve its efforts to reduce carbon emissions (the decision is under appeal).
Climate Case Ireland argued that the 2017 Plan failed to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in breach of the constitutional right an environment consistent with human wellbeing and dignity, as well as falling short of Ireland’s obligations as a signatory to the UN Paris Agreement. The group claimed that the government’s decision to approve the Plan should, therefore, be quashed.
However, Justice Michael MacGrath of the High Court ruled that the National Mitigation Plan was “a living document” that was only “one extremely important part of the jigsaw” with regards to tackling climate change. He called it an “initial step in making [Ireland] low carbon and environmentally sustainable by 2050” and acknowledged additional steps may be necessary. Furthermore, he said that he “couldn’t reasonably conclude as specified in legislation that [the Plan] is contrary to national policy for climate change”. He also could not conclude that the Plan placed rights at risk.
Friends of the Irish Environment is considering grounds for appealing the decision.
Click here for more background information on the Climate Case Ireland website.