Thursday 23 January 2020

Environmental Group bids to take challenge to Government's climate-change plan to Supreme Court

Friends of the Irish Environment claimed the Government's National Mitigation Plan is flawed on several grounds.
Friends of the Irish Environment claimed the Government's National Mitigation Plan is flawed on several grounds.

Tim Healy

An environmental NGO wants the Supreme Court to hear its appeal against the High Court's dismissal of its challenge against a Government plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Last September Mr Justice Michael MacGrath dismissed the challenge by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) to the Government's National Mitigation Plan (NMP).

The plan, published in July 2017, sets out measures that are the first steps on a path designed to transition Ireland to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.

It concerns all sectors of government, with a particular focus on certain key areas such as electricity generation, transport, and agriculture.

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High Court in Dublin
High Court in Dublin

The FIE claims the plan is flawed on several grounds and had asked the court to quash its adoption by the Government.

This week the FIE lodged its appeal against the judgment to the Court of Appeal and has also sought to have the appeal leapfrogged and heard directly by the Supreme Court.

In its proceedings against the Irish Government, Ireland and the Attorney General FIE also asked the court to direct the Government to produce a plan that will properly tackle the risks posed by global warming, including flooding, fires and ecological destruction and loss of life.

It also argued that the plan fails to specify any measures to urgently reduce greenhouse emissions as it is required to do.

Measures such as specifying how greenhouse gas emissions would be managed or removed to levels to appropriate levels were not included in the plan, it further claimed.

The State opposed the action in the High Court and argued that the NMP was not justiciable, meaning that the dispute could not be decided on by a court of law.

The defendants also argued that the group was impermissibly advancing a prescribed policy and seeking to impose a positive obligation on the State to deliver such a policy.

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