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Top court forces Ireland to strengthen climate plans

Top court forces Ireland to strengthen climate plans

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.