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Thursday, June 09, 2022

Government in court over net zero strategy

In my experience, all governments, of whatever hue, devolved and non-devolved, are experts in producing strategies that omit vital details and “completely fail” to show how targets would be met. Often the targets concerned are so far in the future that even if there was a workable action plan, nobody could be held to account for failing to deliver it.

I have seen this in the Welsh Assembly and in the UK Government. So-called ambitious plans, are really no more than unaccountable wishlists with no chance of ever being achieved, and the more difficult the objective, the more obstuse the ambition.

Now, at last, somebody is trying to hold a government to account for one of these 'strategies'. The Independent reports that climate campaigners are to begin a high court battle with the government over the UK’s net zero strategy, which they say is both “irresponsible” and “unlawful”.

The paper says that xases brought by Friends of the Earth, environmental law charity ClientEarth and legal campaign group the Good Law Project will be heard together at the High Court of Justice in London on Wednesday:

It is the first time the government has faced a legal challenge to its net zero strategy, which was formally published in October.

~ The strategy outlines how the country is supposed to slash its emissions by at least 100 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050, a target known as net zero.

It proposes measures including the construction of more nuclear power stations, restoring peat, encouraging walking and cycling, and committing millions of pounds to new hydrogen and industrial carbon capture schemes.

The government has insisted the strategy complies with its legal obligations and has been endorsed by the independent Climate Change Committee.

But the three campaign groups behind the challenge say the strategy does not detail emissions reductions each proposed policy is meant to achieve. They argue this means it is unclear if the initiatives can deliver on the targets the government is legally required to meet under the Climate Change Act.

This, they claim, means parliament and the public cannot hold the government to account over its strategy, and defeats the purpose of the Climate Change Act, which legally requires ministers to present a report that sets out how it will meet emission reduction targets, known as “carbon budgets”.

It's good that somebody is seeking to hold the government to account.
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