The Surpreme Court has proposed that the Government’s national mitigation plan for climate change be quashed, citing the proposals for agriculture as "somewhat vague".
It ruled against the Government on Friday after a case was taken by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE).
In his ruling, Chief Justice Frank Clarke concluded that the plan “falls well short of the level of specificity required to provide that transparency and to comply with the provisions” of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.
“On that basis, I propose that the plan be quashed,” he said.
He added that several of the proposals made in the agriculture chapter of the plan involve carrying out “further research” into areas such as beef genomics and the behavioural barriers that influence farmers’ participation in environmental schemes.
Some general indication of the sort of specific measures which will or may be required needs to be given
“This chapter of the plan also contains somewhat vague proposals to ‘continue to improve knowledge transfer and exchange to farmers by developing a network across State agencies and relevant advisory bodies’ and to ‘further develop the range and depth of sustainability information collected for beef, dairy and other agriculture sectors’," he said.
Justice Clarke accepted that the legislation clearly contemplates that knowledge will evolve and that the detail of the plan will become more fixed as time moves on.
“However, that does not seem to me to prevent there being a clear, present statutory obligation on the Government, in formulating a plan, to at least give some realistic level of detail about how it is intended to meet the [National Transitional Objective]. Some general indication of the sort of specific measures which will or may be required needs to be given,” he said.
The National Transitional Objective is the goal of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the end of 2050.
What is the national mitigation plan?
Launched in 2017, the national mitigation plan was Ireland's approach to tackling climate change in order to meet EU targets by 2050.
It said that farmers would have to take part in more schemes, similar to the existing BDGP, GLAS and Knowledge Transfer, to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and adopt new technologies.
It also said farmers would have to cut the amount of climate change-inducing gases released by each plant or animal they farm.
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