High Court finds the Government’s Net Zero strategy ‘inadequate and unlawful’ in landmark ruling described as a ‘huge victory for climate justice’

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  30th July 2022

The illegality of the Net Zero strategy has been branded a 'huge embarrassment' for the Government, which has been ordered to flesh out the plans

The High Court has found that the Government’s strategy for getting to Net Zero is ‘inadequate and unlawful’, and has ordered it to outline how it will meet environmental targets.

Its ruling follows a successful legal action brought by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, the Good Law Project and Joanna Wheatley.

Under the Climate Change Act, the Government is required to hit Net Zero by 2050, to make proposals as to how it will meet that target, and to place a report before Parliament.

However the High Court held that the proposals, which were approved by the Secretary of State, are too vague to enable him to be satisfied that the statutory targets would be met.

As a result, the Court has ordered that the existing strategy be fleshed out within the next eight months. It should contain the detail necessary to withstand Parliamentary – and public – scrutiny. It’s a common criticism that the public are doing more to reduce their carbon footprint than the Government themselves.

‘Historic case’

Katie de Kauwe, a lawyer with Friends of the Earth, said: “We’re proud to have worked on this historic case.

“This landmark ruling is a huge victory for climate justice and government transparency.

“It shows that the Climate Change Act is a piece of legislation which has teeth, and can, if necessary, be enforced through our court system if the government does not comply with its legal duties.”

Net Zero transparency

Sam Hunter Jones, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, added: “This decision is a breakthrough moment in the fight against climate delay and inaction. It forces the government to put in place climate plans that will actually address the crisis.”

The Good Law Project said: “The illegality of its landmark climate change strategy is a huge political embarrassment to the Government.”

And Joanna Wheatley added: “What’s needed is bold practical action across every aspect of our lives, right now. The High Court decision throws a lifeline, a very last chance for Government to do the right thing.”

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Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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