We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Strictly necessary cookies

Cookie name Duration Cookie purpose
ASP.NET_SessionId Session This cookie holds the current session id (OPPassessment only)
.ASPXANONYMOUS 2 Months Authentication to the site
LSI 1 Year To remember cookie preference for Law Society websites (www.lawsociety.ie, www.legalvacancies.ie, www.gazette.ie)
FTGServer 1 Hour Website content ( /CSS , /JS, /img )
_ga 2 Years Google Analytics
_gat Session Google Analytics
_git 1 Day Google Analytics
AptifyCSRFCookie Session Aptify CSRF Cookie
CSRFDefenseInDepthToken Session Aptify defence cookie
EB5Cookie Session Aptify eb5 login cookie

Functional cookies

Cookie name Duration Cookie purpose
Zendesk Local Storage Online Support
platform.twitter.com Local Storage Integrated Twitter feed

Marketing cookies

Cookie name Duration Cookie purpose
fr 3 Months Facebook Advertising - Used for Facebook Marketing
_fbp 3 months Used for facebook Marketing
Supreme Court quashes 2017 climate action plan
FIE's Clodagh Daly and solicitor Andrew Jackson Pic: RollingNews.ie

31 Jul 2020 / environment Print

Supreme Court quashes 2017 climate action plan

The Supreme Court has quashed the National Mitigation Plan published by the Government in 2017, which was aimed at tackling climate change.

The court ruled that the plan was not specific enough to comply with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.


The case was brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), which was given leave earlier this year to appeal a High Court ruling in September last year which dismissed its legal challenge to the plan.

The group had argued that pursuing the plan involved actions that breached fundamental rights under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).


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

In a judgment delivered by Chief Justice Frank Clarke, the court accepted FIE’s argument that the plan did not comply with its legislative remit and was therefore ultra vires, adding that the issues raised did not amount to an impingement by the court into areas of Government policy.

“What might once have been policy has become law by virtue of the enactment of the 2015 Act,” the court said.


The plan was adopted under the 2015 legislation and its purpose is to enable the state to “pursue and achieve the objective of transitioning to a low carbon climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the end of 2050”.

The 2050 target is known as the National Transitional Objective (NTO), and the court ruled that that the legislation required transparency in how the plan would achieve this.

The judgment said that the 2015 Act demanded a level of detail “so that a reasonable and interested person could make a judgment both as to whether the plan in question is realistic and as to whether they agree with the policy options for achieving the NTO which such a plan specifies”.


The Supreme Court added, however, that FIE, as a corporate entity which does not enjoy in itself the right to life or the right to bodily integrity, did not have standing to maintain the rights-based arguments it put forward under the Constitution or under the ECHR.

The chief justice said it was important to address this issue as it could arise in a future challenge to any new plan.

The court also said that the right to a healthy environment cannot be derived from the Constitution, though the chief justice did not rule out constitutional rights and obligations being “engaged in the environmental field in an appropriate case”.

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