UK government’s climate plan ‘unlawful’ High Court finds, again

'No more pie in the sky – this judgement means the government must now take real, credible action to address the climate crisis'

A placard with text reading "There is no planet B"

The UK government’s climate plan has once again been deemed unlawful by the High Court in a victory for climate campaigners who challenged the Tories net zero plans. 

Last week Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and Good Law Project celebrated a win as the High Court ruled for a second time that the government’s revised net zero strategy was still not fit-for-purpose. 

In July 2022 the High Court first ruled that the UK government’s net zero policy fell short of reaching the requirements of the Climate Change Act which forced Tory ministers to produce a revised plan.

The UK government put forward its ‘Carbon Budget Delivery Plan’ in March 2023, however environmental law charities felt this still did not go far enough in meeting the minimum legal standards, so took the government back to court. They argued yet again that it was unlawful and that the new plan relied on ‘high-risk’ and ‘unproven technologies’ to tackle climate change while having ‘vague and uncertain proposals’. 

The three groups argued that the strategy didn’t address the risk that the government’s key policies wouldn’t deliver the cuts needed to meet the legally-binding climate targets and that the minister lacked sufficient information on the level of risk to delivery of the plans when they were approved. 

It marked “an embarrassing day for the government” Tony Bosworth, lead campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said as he called now for a ‘robust, comprehensive and fair’ climate plan.

Sam Hunter Jones, ClientEarth lawyer said: “No more pie in the sky – this judgement means the government must now take real, credible action to address the climate crisis with a plan that can actually be trusted to deliver and with numbers that can be relied on.” 

“As its own expert advisors have repeatedly said, the government has a golden opportunity to reduce emissions with actions that will also create jobs, improve services and bring down household bills.

“Actions such as public transport investment and a home insulation roll-out will create new jobs, lower costs and provide energy security now and for generations to come – as well as putting us on track to meet our legal targets.”

The Secretary of State is now expected to have to draw up a new climate strategy within 12 months.

(Image credit: Greenpeace)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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