Irish Government to be Taken to Court over Climate Change

Smokey sky caused by Hurricane Ophelia

A legal challenge against the Irish Government has been launched by a group of environmentalists who argue the government is failing to take necessary action to avoid dangerous climate change.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) announced on 23 October that it had field a lawsuit against the Government of Ireland and Ireland’s Attorney General. FIE claims this is the first such climate lawsuit to ever be filed in Ireland.

FIE’s lawsuit argues that the Irish National Mitigation Plan “does not do enough to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and is a violation of Ireland’s Climate Act, the Irish Constitution and human rights obligations.”

The group also claims that the National Mitigation Plan does not meet the standards of the Paris Agreement which aims to limit global temperature rise by 2 degrees – with the ambition of limiting it to 1.5 degrees – above pre-industrial levels.

According to FIE’s Tony Lowes, Ireland’s emissions are projected to increase by 7.5 -10 percent by 2020 when they should be reduced by 25 - 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.

The consequences of climate change are dire,” Lowes said in a statement. “This has long been acknowledged by our government, but they still refuse to take the necessary action.

This case is not about any one environmental organisation. It’s a case for everyone in Ireland, young and old … The extreme impacts of climate change are beginning to hit home – we need to act urgently to ensure this is not the new normal for us and for our children and grandchildren.”

Ireland was only just hit by a category 3 hurricane, Ophelia, which left three people dead and 170,000 people without electricity. This was the first storm of its kind to be witnessed in the east Atlantic.

Just days before Ophelia hit, however, as DeSmog UK reported, Ireland’s climate action minister Denis Naughten was in Brussels pushing for fewer regulations on emission reductions.

The Irish Government now has three weeks to file its reply to FIE’s lawsuit and the case is expected to be heard in 2018.

FIE’s lawsuit comes amidst an uptick in climate litigation around the world. In the United States a group of 21 children are currently pursuing legal action against the government’s failure to do enough to stop climate change. And in 2015 a group of 900 Dutch citizens successfully sued the government – the court ordered the government to reduce emissions by 25 percent within five years.

Commenting on the lawsuit, Dutch lawyer Dennis van Berkel who was involved in the landmark climate case, said in a statement: “The Dutch case proved that all governments have a legal duty to protect their citizens against climate change by doing their part to lower emissions.

Given Ireland’s seriously inadequate climate policies and growing emissions, this case may well lead to the court reaching the same conclusion … all eyes will now be on what unfolds in Ireland.”

Photo: John Sutton via Geographic | CC2.0

Get Weekly News Updates