THE Supreme Court will today begin hearing a legal challenge by climate activists to the State's failure to adequately address the climate crisis.
Seven judges are gathering for the two-day hearing which is taking place in Kings Inns law school in Dublin as the chamber where the court normally sits can not accommodate social distancing.
The case is an appeal against a decision of the High Court to reject the arguments of Friend of the Irish Environment (FIE) that the 2017 National Mitigation Plan drawn up to tackle carbon emissions, lacked adequate targets or actions to achieve those aims.
The National Mitigation Plan remains the only statutory plan for carbon reduction although it has been largely overtaken by the 2019 Climate Action Plan, which also has been criticised for lacking sufficient ambition.
FIE argues that the lack of an appropriate plan breaches the responsibilities that fall to the government under the Climate Act 2015 and, by failing to protect the population and environment from climate breakdown, also breaches domestic and international human rights law.
In rejecting the challenge last year, the High Court ruled that while the science was agreed by both sides, the court could not dictate government policy.
Almost 20,000 people have signed their support for the legal challenge and the original High Court hearing was packed with supporters last year, with many standing or sitting on the floor for the duration.
The case is one of many similar challenges being taken by environmental groups around the world.
Ireland has failed to meet carbon reduction targets and emissions have been growing in recent years. FIE argue the National Mitigation Plan allowed for further increases.
The Climate Action Plan aims for reductions of around 3.5pc per year but scientists say global carbon emissions must fall by at least 7pc-8pc per year with immediate effect if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of temperature rise and climate breakdown.