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Environmental group in Supreme Court bid to challenge government's climate change plan

The NGO claims the National Mitigation Plan is flawed on several grounds and had asked the court to quash its adoption.

Image: Darko Bandic/AP/Press Association Images

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 Justice Michael MacGrath said he was satisfied to dismiss judicial review proceedings brought by the Friends of the Irish Environment CLG brought against the government’s National Mitigation Plan.

The plan, published in July 2017, sets out measures that are the firsts step 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.

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

In his ruling, the Judge held that the government must be afforded broad discretion in adopting plans under the Climate Act, and on the basis of the separation of powers the court could not interfere with the plan.

The NGO this week lodged its appeal against the judgement to the Court of Appeal and has also brought a motion seeking to have their appeal leapfrogged and heard directly by the Supreme Court.

In its proceedings against the Irish Government, Ireland and the Attorney General the NGO sought to quash the government’s decision to approve the National Mitigation Plan.

It 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 respondents opposed the action 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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Aodhan O Faolain

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