Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled the country’s climate plan violates the Irish constitution and the European Commission on Human Rights (ECHR) because it fails to adequately protect the country.
Dubbed “Climate Case Ireland,” the case was filed in 2017 by Friends of the Irish Environment and alleged that the Irish government’s National Mitigation Plan fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough.
“The plan should be quashed on the grounds of having failed to comply with its statutory mandate,” said Justice Frank Clarke, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland in the ruling, which was issued Friday. Clarke said the new plan must be substantively different in order to comply with Ireland’s national climate obligations and the Paris Agreement.
The Irish case is only the second in the world where a nation’s highest court has ordered its government to rethink its national climate policy. It follows Urgenda Foundation v. The State of Netherlands, in which the Netherlands’ highest court determined the Dutch government was violating the rights of its citizens by failing to reduce emissions.
“Ireland contributes disproportionately to the climate crisis, but we have the means to lead the (dangerously overdue) transition to a low-carbon economy and society,” Clodagh Daly, spokesperson for Climate Case Ireland, said in a press release.
“It is technologically and economically feasible for us to achieve this—and the Supreme Court has now affirmed that there is no legal basis for a lack of political will. The government needs to step up.”
The case is expected to be a boost for citizens around the world who are pushing to force their governments to set meaningful climate policy.
Solomon Yeo, a member of the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change, said the Irish court’s ruling has confirmed that “governments have legal obligations to take urgent action to fight climate change.”
“The law is clear: governments must act now to address the climate catastrophe.”