Climate breakdown is a threat to all of us, yet the Irish Government’s climate policy is weak and unambitious. Ireland’s carbon emissions are among the highest per capita in the EU and they’ve risen massively over the past decades. We’ve taken the Government to court to demand more climate action. Ireland’s Supreme Court has determined that exceptional circumstances warrant a direct appeal to it, so that’s our next stop! We need your support to show the Government that this case is for all of us!
This legal action taken by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) is the first case in Ireland in which citizens are seeking to hold their government accountable for its role in knowingly contributing to dangerous levels of climate change. The case was heard in January 2019 and we’re currently awaiting the judgment from the High Court. The case seeks to build on FIE’s legal successes, including the recognition in 2017 of an unwritten right to environmental protection in the Irish Constitution.
The extreme impacts of climate change are beginning to hit home in Ireland, from severe flooding through ex-Hurricane Ophelia to the ‘Beast from the East’ (caused by disruption of the polar vortex as a result of exceptionally warm Arctic temperatures) and the summer drought in 2018. We need to act urgently to ensure this and worse does not become the new normal for us and for our children and grandchildren.
Our case was heard in the High Court in Dublin over four days – from 22-25 January 2019. In the lead up to the hearing a series of events were held in support of the case, culminating in a large Children’s Rally for Climate Action outside the Irish parliament the weekend before the hearing.
The hearing itself was an incredible experience with an amazing atmosphere, captured well in this newspaper article in the Irish Examiner from the first day of the hearing. Public interest in the hearing was such that there were people standing in the courtroom because all available floor space was taken with people sitting, in addition to all the seats being taken! At one point the judge stopped proceedings to direct people to available floor space down beside his bench.
People of all ages attended – e.g. babies and toddlers, a full class of high school pupils, etc. etc. One baby attended all four days of the hearing with her father, and was silently bum-shuffling around the room at various points (well, as silently as babies can bum-shuffle!). It was really quite a moving and inspiring experience to hear these fundamental issues being aired and argued in front of the public, from the very youngest upwards.
A great crowd joined us for the judgment of the High Court on 19th September 2019. Unfortunately the decision went against us on this occasion, but now we’re considering an appeal. We’ll keep you posted!
Amongst the many impacts of climate change, the World Health Organization has estimated that about 250,000 additional people will die as a result of climate change each year from 2030 to 2050. So the impacts of climate change are being and will be felt in our time, and they can be counted in millions of unnecessary and preventable deaths. Our case calls on the Irish government to act now to help prevent such suffering.
This case is for everyone in Ireland, young and old. We’re hoping the case will capture imaginations here and abroad and galvanise a movement pushing for ambitious and urgent action.
Explore our website for more information on the case, how to sign up to support the case, and how to get involved.