Top court forces Ireland to strengthen climate plans

Posted: August 3, 2020 by oldbrew in climate, government, IPCC, Legal
Tags: ,

Irish wind farm [image credit: RTG @ Wikipedia]

Climate virtue signalling comes back to bite vote-chasing politicians, who expected they could dump many of the potentially unpopular decisions on taxes and spending arising from their 2015 law onto a later government. They now have to lay out plans for the next 30 years, long after their mandate to govern.
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Judges ruled the government’s national mitigation plan fell “well short” of what was needed to meet Ireland’s climate commitments, ordering a more ambitious strategy, as Climate Home News reports.

The Irish government has been ordered to take more aggressive action on climate change, following a ruling by the country’s top judges.

In a judgment published today [31/07/2020], the supreme court said Ireland’s existing emission cutting plans fell “well short” of what was required to meet its climate commitments and must be replaced with a more ambitious strategy.

Ireland is obliged to cut its emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, under its Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. In 2017 it published a National Mitigation Plan explaining how it intended to meet that goal.

But Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), which brought the legal case dubbed Climate Case Ireland, argued that the plan was not “fit for purpose” because it was not designed to achieve substantial emissions reductions in either the short or medium term.

Citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the NGO said developed countries like Ireland should be cutting emissions 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020.

Today’s judgment overturns a decision by the high court last September, which had rejected the case.

The Irish government has not denied the importance of tackling climate change. But in court its lawyers had contended that the state is not obliged to respond to climate change in any particular way and said even a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020 would cause an “extreme alteration” to Irish society.

FIE appealed the high court decision before a socially distanced panel of seven supreme court judges in June.

Their final judgment states that the National Mitigation Plan should cover the full period remaining to 2050. “While the detail of what is intended to happen in later years may understandably be less complete, a compliant plan must be sufficiently specific as to policy over the whole period to 2050.”

Full report here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Or both?

  2. Pat Swords says:

    See Section 6.21 of the Judgement below:

  3. oldbrew says:

    Thanks Pat.

    Court verdict:
    1. Introduction
    1.1 Climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing all states.
    – – –
    All downhill from there.

  4. JB says:

    High courts no longer restrict themselves to determining the legality/constitutionality of the laws.
    Perhaps they never really did.
    Government is a swamp.

  5. pochas94 says:

    Government by the Ignorati.

  6. oldbrew says:

    JB – indeed.

    IPCC reports have never been subjected to a ‘burden of proof’ test in the courts. Therefore the courts* are relying on their own personal beliefs, surely? And if so, how is this legally sound?
    (*The top court in the land in this case)

    Just say ‘undoubtedly’ 🙄

  7. spetzer86 says:

    Maybe you need to rewrite Shakespeare a bit and do the Judges first…

  8. oldbrew says:

    Is it legal for a court to require a government to set policies 30 years into the future, when it was only elected for a term of 4-5 years?

    Democracy used to mean that no parliament can bind its successors nor be bound by its predecessors – in the UK at least.

    Court verdict says:
    “6.20 It is true that s.4(1)(b) requires there to be a new plan at least every fifth year.
    But it would be wrong, in my view, to suggest that the legislation contemplates a
    series of five year plans.”

    But the elected government only lasts 5 years, or less, due to elections. It’s the law. Hello?

  9. oldbrew says:

    Reading further in the judgment:
    “If the public are unhappy with a plan then, assuming that it is considered a sufficiently important issue, the public are entitled to vote accordingly and elect a government which might produce a plan involving policies more in accord with what the public wish.”
    – – –
    So in other words any new government can change or rewrite the plan. Therefore anything in any current plan that goes beyond the elected term of whoever wrote it, is not worth the paper it’s written on – except possibly as part of its next election manifesto.

  10. Phoenix44 says:

    As with the Heathrow decision there is much less to this than meets the eye. The government just has to lay out plans but if it wanted to it could simply change the legislation the judgement is based on. Quite why the Greens are wasting so much money on these legal cases is beyond me. If they think they are going to force governments to do things more quickly they are naive: even politicians understand that making people much poorer & their lives much worse is not going to get them re-elected.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    I can see it now………


    2030 – More windmills, solar thingys.
    2040 – Grid storage batteries, e-cars, future generation technology comes on line.
    2050 – Magic Happens (wave hands )

    They didn’t say how GOOD a plan it must be…. 🙂

  12. oldbrew says:

    It will be judged a good plan if Ireland gets even cooler than it already is 😆

  13. Stephen Richards says:

    There is a higher court although I don’t think they have anymore common sense than the Irish court. Ireland is a member of the EU so the ECJ could adjudicate.

  14. oldbrew says:

    ‘Grid storage batteries’


  15. ivan says:

    Simple answer – get out of the EU then dump the Paris Accord like the US did then repeal the climate change stupidity. That will allow the government to cut the green taxes the population have to pay.

    Come to think of it, that would be a good way for the UK as well.

  16. oldbrew says:

    Court: ‘What might once have been policy has become law by virtue of the enactment of the 2015 Act. ‘

    Proof that leaders have made a rod for their own backs with so-called climate laws, by in effect handing the courts a decisive role.