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Government’s net zero strategy ruled unlawful in ‘breakthrough moment’ for decarbonisation

Government must now file a more complete net zero strategy by the end of March 2023. Image: Getty.

Government must now file a more complete net zero strategy by the end of March 2023. Image: Getty.

The government’s net zero strategy has been ruled as inadequate in the High Court in a “landmark ruling”.

Action brought by Good Law Project, Client Earth, Friends of the Earth and climate campaigner Joanna Wheatley claimed that the government had acted unlawfully because its own net zero strategy, unveiled by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year, does not comply with the legal requirement set out within the Climate Change Act.

And in a judgement and order published earlier today, the High Court upheld those claims, ruling that government proposals for meeting net zero were too vague to offer certainty that statutory targets would be met.

In addition, the strategy – which was laid before parliament in October 2021 – lacked sufficient specificity to meet the Secretary of State’s duty to inform parliament and the public of the government’s plans.

The court has now ruled that the government lay before parliament a report compliant with section 12 of the Climate Change Act no later than 31 March 2023 – given the government just over eight months in which to return with a sufficient net zero strategy.

An application for permission to appeal has also been refused.

A copy of the court order can be found here, while the full 59-page judgement can be read here.

Sam Hunter Jones, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, described the decision as a “breakthrough moment in the fight against climate delay and inaction”.

“The decision confirms that the Government must show how its plans will deliver the carbon budget targets in full. 

“Its approach must also be realistic and based on what it actually expects its plans to achieve. And the Government must set out the emissions reductions expected from its individual policies so that the public and parliament can properly hold it to account. This is a huge win for climate justice and accountability,” he said.

More to follow…

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