Update: Heathrow third runway decision does not make cognizable the Paris Agreement

It has been reported in the media, and claimed by Elizabeth May, MP at the Runnymede Conference in March, that a British Court has recognized the Paris Agreement into English law and has quashed the third runway at Heathrow Airport as a result. But reading the case, Plan B Earth – indicates this not to be so. Rather, the court found as a matter of administrative law that the Minister had not properly exercised his discretion in not “considering” the Paris Agreement. The Court said:

238. Again we would emphasize that it does not follow from this that the Secretary of State was obliged to act in accordance with the Paris Agreement or to reach any particular outcome. The only legal obligation, in our view, was to take the Paris Agreement into account when arriving at his decision.

So, it still remains, as we reported previously in our Part 1 posting on a possible Section 7 claim, that the the Paris Agreement is not cognizable domestically. In other words, it will not be recognized by Canadian courts as binding law.

2 thoughts on “Update: Heathrow third runway decision does not make cognizable the Paris Agreement”

  1. Like you, I actually read the UK court decision. At the risk of boring you, I would add one judicial finding.

    The court said that the only reason why the UK government had a duty to consider the Paris Accord when deciding on the proposed additional Heath Row runway was because Parliament had enacted a law requiring such a formal assessment of the impact of this runway on the UK’s ability to comply with its Paris commitments. Without that law there would have been no such judicial decision. So really, all the court said was “obey your own laws”.

    This is not the court enshrining the Paris Accord into English law. It was just declaring that because Parliament had already done this, and had not repealed it law, that law was still in force and had to be obeyed.


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