UN warns Ireland about failure to tackle climate change

THE Government’s failure to take action on climate change is a “breach” of the State’s human rights obligations, the UN special rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment has said.

A statement by Professor David Boyd has been submitted to the High Court as part of legal action being taken by Friends of the Irish Environment, which claims the Government’s response to global warming is not sufficient.

“Climate change will undoubtedly have increasingly negative impacts upon the Irish environment, threatening the human rights of its citizens,” it says.

“Since climate change directly contributes to human rights violations, the Government of Ireland has a positive obligation to take measures to mitigate climate change, to prevent its negative human rights impacts, and to ensure that all persons, particularly those in vulnerable situations, have adequate capacity to adapt to the growing climate crisis.

“Failure to prevent foreseeable human rights harms caused by climate change, or at the very least to mobilise maximum available resources in an effort to do so, constitutes a breach of this obligation.”

The statement cites reports from the Environmental Protection Agency on emission projections, and the annual report of the Climate Change Advisory Council, which has said Ireland is “completely off course” in terms of meeting 2020 and 2030 reduction targets.

Friends of the Irish Environment is seeking a judicial review of a Government decision to approve the National Mitigation Plan, which outlines a series of actions needed to reduce emissions.

However, the group says it does not go far enough, and needs to be strengthened.

Climate Case Ireland spokesperson Sadhbh O’Neill said the case was due to be heard on January 22 next, and that the intervention from Professor Boyd was “hugely significant”.

“Ireland is under international scrutiny because we are not doing our fair share to reduce emissions,” she said.

“Climate change poses real risks to a range of human rights, including violating the right to life, and the Irish government has a positive duty to protect these rights. Our case asks the High Court to quash and remit the inadequate 2017 National Mitigation Plan in order that it can be remade to protect these fundamental human rights.”

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