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Climate campaigners win case to force State to act on climate change

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The Four Courts

The Four Courts

The Four Courts

CLIMATE activists have won their case against the State for failure to produce an adequate plan to tackle climate change.

In a unanimous decision this morning, seven judges of the Supreme Court ruled that the 2017 National Mitigation Plan lacked the detail and specifics needed to guide the country towards the kind of dramatic reduction in carbon emissions needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming and climate breakdown.

Chairman of the court, Chief Justice Frank Clarke, said the plan “lacked the specificity required to comply with the law”. He ruled the plan be quashed.

The plan was devised to comply with the 2015 Climate Act and while it has been largely overtaken by the 2019 Climate Action Plan, it remains the only statutory and therefore legally binding plan in the previous and current government armoury against climate change.

It was roundly criticised by climate activists and the State’s own Climate Change Advisory Council as vague and lacking in ambition.

Climate Case Ireland, headed by Friends of the Irish Environment and backed by thousands of signed supporters, took a case to the High Court seeking its quashing and replacement but lost last year.

The State had argued that for the courts to quash the plan would amount to undue interference by the judiciary in the policy and workings of government.

However, Chief Justice Clarke ruled that “policy had become law” when the 2015 Climate Act was enacted.

Climate Case Ireland, which drew its inspiration from similar legal challenges by environmentalists around the world, reacted with jubilation to the ruling.

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