Press release: Climate Case Ireland deliver open letter to the Department of Communication, Climate Action, and the Environment calling for Citizens’ Assembly on the Biodiversity Crisis and Constitutional recognition of Environmental Rights.
Posted on: 10-06-2021
Climate Case Ireland deliver open letter to the Department of Communication, Climate Action, and the Environment calling for Citizens’ Assembly on the Biodiversity Crisis and Constitutional recognition of Environmental Rights.
Climate Case Ireland, supported by multiple organisations, today delivered an open letter to the Department of Communication, Climate Action, and the Environment, calling upon Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to announce the date for a Citizens’ Assembly on the Biodiversity Emergency before Dáil recess on July 16th. The group further call for the Assembly’s agenda to include the possible recognition of a Constitutional right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and the principles of a Just Transition.
Friends of the Irish Environment made international headlines when they won their historic legal case ‘Climate Case Ireland’ against the Government in July 2020, becoming only the second case in the world in which a Government’s overall level of mitigation ambition was successfully challenged in court.
Campaigners behind Climate Case Ireland are now calling on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party, to follow through on the promise it made more than two years ago. On 9th May 2019, the Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency and called for the Citizens’ Assembly to examine how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss.
In the Programme for Government agreed in June 2020, the Government Parties committed to “progress the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity,” but so far, no visible progress has been made.
In March 2021, Ireland – alongside 68 other countries – submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council stating that “a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of human rights.
In their open letter, Climate Case Ireland call upon the Government to:
- Treat this like a real emergency and announce the date for the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss before 16th July 2021 (the beginning of the Dáil’s summer recess);
- Ensure that the following points are included on the Citizens’ Assembly’s agenda when it considers biodiversity loss:
- The possible recognition of a constitutional right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment; and
- the principles of a Just Transition to ensure that action taken to address the biodiversity crisis is consistent with these principles.
Emer Slattery of Climate Case Ireland commented that:
“The Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency more than two years ago and promised to convene a Citizens’ Assembly to examine how the State should respond to the biodiversity crisis. It now needs to follow through on this promise and announce a date for the Citizens’ Assembly before Dáil recess on July 16th. The Citizens’ Assembly should be tasked with discussing possible recognition of a Constitutional right to safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.”
Clodagh Daly, campaign coordinator of Climate Case Ireland, commented:
“The Constitution is a living document and needs to change to give us the rights we need as people in a rapidly changing world. In the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis, we need to decide whether the time has come to enshrine the right to an environment in the Irish Constitution.”
Matthew Mollahan of Climate Case Ireland added:
“In March 2021, Ireland – alongside 68 other countries – submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council stating that “a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of human rights. Surely, if the Government is supporting action to advance the recognition of environmental rights at the international level, a referendum at the national level should be proposed for consistency? A Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity provides an opportune forum to discuss this.”
The group have additionally launched a public petition today.
On July 31st, 2020, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) won their historic legal challenge, known as
‘Climate Case Ireland,’ against the Irish Government. The landmark Supreme Court judgment held that the Government’s National Mitigation Plan, a main plank of its climate change policy, failed to specify the manner in which it is proposed to achieve the ‘national transition objective’, as required by Ireland’s 2015 Climate Act. This means that the Government failed to specify how it planned for Ireland to transition to “a low carbon climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the end of 2050.”
The case was heard in the Supreme Court on June 22nd and 23rd 2020 by an exceptional seven Supreme Court Judges – the composition reserved for cases of particular importance or complexity. Dr. David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, commented that: “This landmark decision recognizes the urgency of responding to the climate emergency and sets a precedent for courts around the world to follow.”
An online petition for Climate Case Ireland attracted over 20,000 signatures of support and a large public rally was also held in support of the case prior to the hearing in the High Court. The case was heard in the High Court by Mr. Justice MacGrath from January 22-25th 2019. Supporters packed out the High Court during the four-day hearing in 2019, in almost unprecedented scenes.
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE)
Established in 1997, FIE is non-profit Company Limited by Guarantee and a Charity registered in Ireland. It is a member of the European Environmental Bureau and the Irish Environmental Network. Registered Office: Kilcatherine, Eyeries, Co Cork, Ireland. P75 CX53 Company No.326985. Charities Registration No. 20154530. Tel & Fax: 353 (0)27 74771. Email: email@example.com
For more information on the case and Climate Case Ireland’s ongoing campaign efforts, see www.climatecaseireland.ie
Contact: Clodagh Daly, 086-155-5581 or firstname.lastname@example.org
 The full statement and the list of signatories can be found here.
 See International Labour Organisation “Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable
economies and societies for all” available at: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_emp/—