Friends of the Irish Environment to consider grounds for appealing High Court ruling in historic climate case
Posted on: 19-09-2019
Today, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) announced it will consider grounds for appealing the decision of the High Court in its historic Irish climate case. The court held that the Irish government’s decision to adopt the National Mitigation Plan, a key plank in its climate change policy, was lawful.
FIE’s legal challenge, known as ‘Climate Case Ireland,’ was filed in October 2017. Climate Case Ireland argued that the 2017 National Mitigation Plan was inconsistent with Ireland’s national, EU and international obligations to help prevent dangerous climate breakdown. As such, Climate Case Ireland argued that the Government’s failure to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a breach of Irish citizens’ constitutional and human rights, including for example the constitutional right to an environment consistent with human wellbeing and dignity.
The case attracted widespread public support, with more than 18,000 signatures of support, and a packed courtroom every day throughout the four-day public hearing and on judgment day itself.
Clodagh Daly, spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland, stated:
“We know that we cannot delay action on climate change any longer. It is regrettable that citizens had to turn to the courts to try to compel our government to do what it has repeatedly agreed is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown. However, we refuse to accept an unthinkably bleak future without a fight. We’ll now be looking at our options very closely with our legal team in terms of an appeal.”
She continued, “Ireland’s emissions remain among the highest in Europe per person, and our overall emissions have risen significantly over the past three decades. By failing to dramatically reduce our emissions, the Irish government is ignoring public calls and a political consensus for more ambitious climate action. This case has started a national conversation about climate justice, and Irish citizens, from school strikers to grandparents, are demanding action now.”
The decision is the latest in a wave of legal actions brought by citizens around the world against their national governments, demanding greater action on climate change.
The Irish government has repeatedly agreed that developed countries like Ireland must lead the way in addressing climate change, and that Ireland’s emissions must decrease 25-40% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels to help avert dangerous climate breakdown, in accordance with the IPCC’s conclusions. However, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency predicts Ireland’s emissions will increase by 10-12% during this period.
The High Court’s decision comes months after Ireland was ranked worst European country for its performance on climate action for the second year in a row. The 2017 National Mitigation Plan has also been strongly criticised by the government’s own Climate Change Advisory Council, who stated that Ireland’s current and projected emissions are “disturbing” and that Ireland is “completely off course,” in terms of achieving its 2020 and 2030 EU emissions reduction targets.