Net Zero: The Government must take the climate crisis seriously

by Good Law Project

Net Zero: The Government must take the climate crisis seriously

by Good Law Project
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind.
Funded
on 04th February 2022
£41,525
pledged of £40,000 stretch target from 1,463 pledges
Good Law Project
Case Owner
Good Law Project's mission is to achieve change through the law. We uphold democracy, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind.

Latest: May 31, 2022

We're in Court next week

A week from today, we will be at the High Court to argue for a stronger Net Zero Strategy that’s truly fit for purpose. 

The UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy is meant to be a roadmap…

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Good Law Project has launched a new challenge against the Government over its completely inadequate Net Zero strategy for tackling the climate crisis. 

There is no way the Government’s Net Zero strategy meets its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act. The Government may have set out a vision, but it hasn’t set out the specific policies needed to lead us to Net Zero, and it isn’t measuring the emissions reductions its initiatives are meant to achieve. So, while the Government has set the grand target of Net Zero by 2050, it fails to set out how we will actually get there. We believe this is unlawful. 

What’s more, the Government is, inexplicably, refusing to release the documents that set out its calculations of expected emissions reductions. We have applied to the Court to force them to disclose these documents.    

The climate crisis isn’t a distant problem. It's happening now.We’re already seeing its effects every day. 

The Met Office has already predicted that 2022 will be one of the hottest years on record. Last July it issued the UK’s first ever amber extreme heat warning. Summer flash floods brought chaos to the West Midlands. And on New Year’s Day, people were left wondering why they didn’t have to wear jumpers

The only question left is: what will we do with this knowledge? What part will the UK play in keeping global heating below 1.5 C? 

Around the country, community groups and businesses are working hard to reduce their carbon footprints, but this will be in vain unless the Government steps up too. 

We’re taking legal action to force the Government to revise and strengthen the strategy by 30 June this year. We want it to set out data-driven plans to ensure the UK actually delivers the carbon cuts required to hit its climate targets. 

There can be no more delays. We need a strategy that covers the entire country and puts real energy, support and resources behind this. 

If you are able, please consider donating so we can force our leaders to live up to their climate rhetoric. 


The details:

Good Law Project has instructed Baker McKenzie, along with Jason Coppel QC and Peter Lockley from 11KBW. 

We have applied for a costs cap from the Court which, if granted, will limit our costs risk. This crowdfunder will help cover our legal fees in addition to that limited costs risk. 

Read our Pre-Action Protocol letter to the Government here. Read their response here.

10% of the sums raised will go to Good Law Project so that we can continue to use the law for a better world. It is our policy to only raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. If for some reason we don’t spend all the money raised on this case, for instance if the Government backs down or we win, the donations will go towards supporting other litigation we bring. 

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Update 3

Good Law Project

May 31, 2022

We're in Court next week

A week from today, we will be at the High Court to argue for a stronger Net Zero Strategy that’s truly fit for purpose. 

The UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy is meant to be a roadmap for how we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050. For the strategy to have any meaning it must be specific and quantified, otherwise it’s just handwaving. The Government talks a good game, but it hasn’t actually set out how we will get to Net Zero. 

We’re in Court on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 June with our co-claimant Jo Wheatley, a committed climate activist for nearly 40 years, to argue that the only way the Government can properly meet the threat of the climate crisis is with a strategy that has clearly defined targets. If we’re successful, the Government will be forced to fill in the gaps in its plans.  

Jo says she “wants the UK to have a Net Zero Strategy that treats the climate and biodiversity situation like the emergency it is, with measurable, realistic actions that set us on the right path. I want my grandchildren to have a liveable future; one they can thrive and be happy in.” She’s “terrified we're wasting the opportunity to wake up from sleepwalking into disaster.” 

Her fears are well founded. The current strategy falls far-short of the Government's obligations under the Climate Change Act. For example, the aviation industry is set to grow by 65 percent by 2050, but to meet Net Zero this needs to stop at 25 percent. However, the strategy doesn’t contain a single measure that would slow the industry’s growth. Instead, it makes risky bets on unproven and speculative technologies, and fails to properly set out how these will reduce emissions enough to meet their targets.

By granting us permission to bring a judicial review, the High Court has acknowledged that there are important questions about the strategy that must be answered. This could be a pivotal moment in determining how we, as a nation, respond to the climate crisis. 

As energy bills soar, the Government must invest in green alternatives. We have the chance to transform our future, but we need to face up to the scale of the crisis. 

Our arguments will be heard alongside those of ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth, who have also brought claims in relation to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy. 

Update 2

Good Law Project

March 17, 2022

We have a court date

A date has now been set for the substantive hearing in our Net Zero legal challenge. We will be going to court on 8 and 9 June this year, alongside ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth, who have also brought claims in relation to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy. By giving permission to bring a judicial review, the High Court has acknowledged how important the Net Zero commitment in the Climate Change Act is.

We launched this challenge because we believe it is essential that the Government has proper, data-driven plans to ensure the UK confronts the climate crisis. As it stands, the Net Zero Strategy is woefully inadequate and falls well short of meeting the Government’s legal obligations under the Climate Change Act. 

The climate crisis is happening now, on our own shores, and we must do all we can to combat it. Our lawyers will be working hard to prepare for the hearing in June. 

We are grateful for any support you can give. Thank you. 

Update 1

Good Law Project

March 2, 2022

We’re going to Court

We have good news in our legal challenge against the Government’s dangerously threadbare Net Zero strategy: we have been given permission to bring judicial review proceedings on all of our grounds.

We launched our case a month ago to force the Government to strengthen the Net Zero strategy. Currently, the commitment is paper thin. It’s strong on rhetoric, but lacking any real pathway to ensure we meet the promise made by Parliament to our children that we will reduce greenhouse gases to Net Zero by 2050. The Government isn’t measuring the emissions reductions each initiative is meant to achieve and has refused to release the documents that set out these calculations. 

We launched this case in the High Court alongside our friends at ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth. The High Court has decided that all three cases will be heard together and there is no reservation about anyone’s legal ‘standing’.

We are delighted that the High Court has, by giving permission to bring a judicial review, acknowledged how important it is that the Net Zero commitment in the Climate Change Act has real meaning. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this week said that humans and nature are already being pushed beyond their abilities to adapt. And there is only a brief window of time left to avoid the very worst. 

The time to act is now.

We will let you know when a court date is set. 

You can read the High Court order here

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