The Government’s strategy for getting to Net Zero is inadequate and unlawful, the High Court has found, following a successful legal challenge brought by Good Law Project, Joanna Wheatley, ClientEarth, and Friends of the Earth. The Climate Change Act requires the Government to hit Net Zero by 2050, to make proposals for how it will meet that target, and to place a report before Parliament. In a detailed judgment and order published yesterday, amid the UK’s first ever red alert for extreme heat, the High Court held that the proposals for achieving Net Zero approved by the Secretary of State were too vague to enable him to be satisfied that the statutory targets would be met. And that the report placed before Parliament lacked the specificity necessary to meet the Secretary of State’s duty to inform Parliament and the public of his plans.
In court, it was revealed that the Net Zero Strategy would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to meet the UK’s legally binding climate targets. The government had done the calculations and knew about this shortfall. But it held back this crucial information from both the public and parliament.
The illegality of its landmark climate change strategy is a political embarrassment to the Government. When it launched in October 2021, the Net Zero Strategy was hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a foreword: “Our strategy for net zero is to lead the world in ending our contribution to climate change.” And by the Secretary of State, Kwasi Kwarteng: “This strategy demonstrates how the UK is leading by example, with a clear plan for the future.”
The Court has ordered that the existing strategy be fleshed out with the detail necessary for Parliamentary and public scrutiny within the next eight months. The Government has also been ordered to pay our costs.