Supreme Court quashes Government’s emission reduction plan

31 Jul 2020

The Fourt Courts building in Dublin. Image: © Airi Pung/

Following an appeal from Friends of the Irish Environment, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government’s National Mitigation Plan lacks detail and specificity.

The Supreme Court has rejected the Government’s 2017 National Mitigation Plan (NMP) to reduce rising greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland.

Seven judges decided on the ruling today (31 July), stating that the Government’s plan lacks specificity and does not comply with Ireland’s obligations under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The Government will now need to create an alternative plan.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court as an appeal by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), after the High Court rejected the group’s case in September 2019.

FIE argued that the 2017 NMP failed to set out measures that would lead to a substantial reduction in Ireland’s rising emissions. The group first applied for judicial review of the NMP in October 2017.

Objections against the plan

FIE was formed by environmental activists in 1997 to monitor the implementation of environmental and planning laws in Ireland.

FIE had argued that the NMP was inconsistent with the State’s obligations under Section 4 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, which aims to transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient, sustainable economy by 2050.

The group said that the NMP failed to set out measures to reduce emissions by 20pc by 2050, along with further reductions in the short to medium term. It said that these measures were required under the 2015 Act, as well as EU and international agreements.

The court ruled that the NMP “falls a long way short of the specificity” that the 2015 act requires, and that significant parts of the policies could be described as “excessively vague or aspirational”.

Clodagh Daly, a spokesperson for FIE’s Climate Case Ireland campaign, said: “Exciting as a legal win may be, the real work now lies in the creation of a transformed National Mitigation Plan – one that guarantees the rapid and dramatic reduction of Ireland’s emissions.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic