Friends of the Irish Environment v. Ireland
Principle law(s): Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act,National Mitigation Plan
Side A: Friends of the Irish Environment (Ngo)
Side B: Ireland (Government)
Core objectives: Whether Ireland's National Mitigation Plan violated statutory law, the Irish Constitution, and human rights obligations because it is not set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently over the next few decades.
SummaryAn advocacy group, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), filed suit in the High Court, arguing that the Irish government’s approval of the National Mitigation Plan in 2017 violated Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 ("the Act"), the Constitution of Ireland, and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly the right to life and the right to private and family life. FIE alleged that the National Mitigation Plan ("the Plan"), which seeks to transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050, is inconsistent with the Act and Ireland's human rights commitments because it is not designed to achieve substantial short-term emissions reductions. The case was argued before the High Court on January 22, 2019. FIE asked the High Court to quash the government's decision to approve the Plan and, if appropriate, order that a new plan be written.
On July 31, 2020, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court and issued a ruling quashing the Plan. The Court unanimously determined that the Plan falls short of the sort of specificity that the Act requires because a reasonable reader of the Plan would not understand how Ireland will achieve its 2050 goals. The Court explained that "a compliant plan must be sufficiently specific as to policy over the whole period to 2050." The Court, however, determined that FIE lacks standing to bring its claims under the Constitution or ECHR. The Court also concluded that FIE had not made a compelling enough case for identifying an unenumerated right to a healthy environment, separate from the rights expressly conferred by the Irish Constitution, "[w]hile not ruling out the possibility that constitutional rights and obligations may well be engaged in the environmental field in an appropriate case."
Related laws and policies
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act provides for the approval of plans by the Government in relation to climate change for the purpose of pursuing the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy; to establish a body to be known as the Nation...
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment published the National Mitigation Plan in July 2017. The "whole-of-Government" Plan aims at setting Ireland on a decarbonisation pathway to 2050. The Plan further includes 100 actions for various Ministers and public bodies to imple...