January 30th, 2018
A landmark legal challenge brought against the Irish Government for alleged inaction to tackle climate change has been pushed back for a second time at the request of the State.
The Judicial Review brought by environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment (FiE) was due to appear before the High Court in early January.
In December, however, the state requested that the hearing was adjourned until the end of January to give it more time to prepare its written reply due to the complexity of the issues raised in the case.
The case will now be adjourned for a further two weeks at the request of the State to give it additional time to file its opposition papers by 8 February.
The case is then due back in court on 13 February where FiE’s legal team will indicate how much time the NGO need to prepare a reply if they wish to do so.
The Irish Climate Case
The Cork-based environmental group obtained permission from the High Court in October to bring the lawsuit against the Irish Government, claiming that it has failed to take action to avert the threat of climate change.
The legal challenge claims that the National Mitigation Plan does not do enough to reduce our emissions, violating Ireland’s Climate Act, the Irish Constitution, and international human rights obligations.
FiE’s Director Tony Lowes said that, although the Government has acknowledged many times at UN level that Ireland should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990, our emissions are projected to increase over that period by 7.5 to 10 per cent.
In its first annual review released last December, the Climate Change Advisory Council said that Ireland is not on track to meet its short-term emissions targets or to decarbonise its economy by 2050 without major new policy initiatives.
“Every day that goes by brings new evidence of the extreme impacts of climate change caused by our conduct, while every day’s delay makes it harder and more expensive to meet our obligations to help avoid dangerous climate change,” Mr Lowes continued.
“The World Health Organization has estimated that from 2030 to 2050 there will be an additional 250,000 deaths each year as a result of climate change. The government needs to act urgently and ambitiously to help avoid this needless suffering.”
Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment
In late November, the High Court recognised for the first time the constitutional right of Irish people to an environment that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens.
The judgement was made in relation to a separate legal challenge brought by FIE against a decision to grant the Dublin Airport Authority a five-year extension to a 2007 planning permission for the construction of a third runway at Dublin Airport.
While dismissing FiE’s challenge, Mr Justice Max Barrett recognised for the first time a constitutional right to environmental protection “that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens at large”. In his judgement, Judge Barrett said that such a right “is an essential condition for the fulfilment of all human rights”.