We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. Click OK to use our website.

Climate plan case for Supreme Court
Left to right: David Healy, Sadhbh O'Neill, Tony Lowes and Clodagh Daly of FIE Pic: RollingNews

18 Feb 2020 / courts Print

Climate plan appeal case to go to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has granted an environmental group leave to appeal a High Court ruling which dismissed its legal challenge against the Government’s National Mitigation Plan.

The plan, adopted under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, is aimed at tackling climate change.

Rights

Last September, the High Court dismissed judicial review proceedings brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) against the plan.

The group argues that pursuing the plan involves actions that breach fundamental rights under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights.

Issues

The Supreme Court says the case raises a number of issues of general public importance, as well as a number of legal points of general public importance.

These include whether such a plan is a matter for the courts to decide on, as well as the broader environmental rights asserted by Friends of the Environment.

The higher court says there is no dispute between the parties over the facts or the science of the issue, and all agree that Irish emissions are set to increase significantly over the plan’s lifetime – 2017 to 2022.

Emissions

The case centres on whether the government is entitled to adopt a plan that will lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions in a situation where it has been warned that this will lead to serious environmental impacts and fundamental rights breaches.

Friends of the Environment argues that the agreed science makes it clear that any delay in achieving substantial reductions in emissions “increases the risks of severe climate-related harms”.

Postpone

But the government says the plan is not a matter for the courts and that it is entitled to postpone cutting emissions to some point in the future.

Granting leave to appeal, the Supreme Court said that, as both parties broadly agreed on the science underpinning the plan, it was unlikely that a hearing before the Court of Appeal would further refine any questions of law or factual issues.

FIE is a non-profit company set up to provide a formal structure for a network of environmental activists. Its main source of funding is the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment's Environment Fund.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland