Green organisations taking the Government to court over its net zero strategy have issued a strong warning to Rishi Sunak over his announcement today that he will row back on key climate policies.
Good Law Project’s Legal Director, Emma Dearnaley, said “the Government’s current plans to reduce emissions are already inadequate and unlawful. The last thing we need is for them to be weakened further.”
Good Law Project, ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth recently launched a joint legal challenge against the Government’s Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, arguing that it falls short of legal requirements set by the Climate Change Act 2008.
This is the second time they have teamed up to take legal action against the Government over net zero. Last year, they went to the High Court and forced the Government to rewrite its plan to reach net zero, which was found to be in breach of the Climate Change Act.
The organisations are now taking the Government back to court as they believe that the renewed plan Ministers came up with in March still falls far short of the Government’s duties.
The High Court has now ordered a three-day hearing for the legal challenges brought by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and Good Law Project – but dates are yet to be confirmed.
This follows an earlier damning report by the independent Climate Change Committee which concluded that the Government has lost leadership on climate action and shown a lack of urgency. The CCC thinks that the UK is failing to hit its climate targets on almost every front.
Legal Director of Good Law Project, Emma Dearnaley, said, “Rishi Sunak’s destructive new plans are designed only to grab headlines as a political gamble. But the stakes for the environment are much higher. Most people agree that we must do better than this – and we can.
“The latest political posturing from this Government shows why the legal challenge Good Law Project is bringing with Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth is more important than ever. We are holding the Government to account to ensure their plans to reduce emissions are effective and transparent.
“We believe the Government’s current plans are already inadequate and unlawful. The last thing we need is for them to be weakened further.”
ClientEarth CEO Laura Clarke said, “As countries everywhere are battered by floods, heatwaves and wildfires, and as the world gathers in New York to accelerate climate action to address the crisis facing our planet, the UK Government has signalled that it is abandoning any vestiges of climate leadership.
“We know that climate action has broad public support, will reduce reliance on expensive fossil fuels, and secure a better future for our children. Further weakening climate policy is bad economics, bad politics, and legally high-risk too.
“We are already challenging the government’s existing climate plan on the basis that its policies cannot be relied on to deliver the UK’s carbon budgets. Any reduction in the overall strength of the government’s measures would only worsen that position against what the Climate Change Act requires.
“We will continue to pay close attention to any further announcements to assess these against the UK’s legal obligations.”
Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said, “Rishi Sunak is being environmentally reckless and economically inept.
“Building a green economy is the best way to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, boost energy security and strengthen the economy. Weakening these green policies will simply undermine business confidence and put British jobs at risk.
“The government is already being taken to court over its weak and feeble climate action plan, which we say is unlawful. If this current package is weakened further, and in a way that’s not transparent about delivery risks, then further legal challenges are inevitable.
“With the world in the midst of a climate crisis we need bold political leadership – not another Prime Minister posturing to a narrow section of his own party for perceived short-term electoral gains.
“The consequences won’t just fall on people in the UK – they will reverberate globally.”