Citizens sue Government for safe Climate Target

by Plan B + 11 citizens

Citizens sue Government for safe Climate Target

by Plan B + 11 citizens
Plan B + 11 citizens
The UK Government knows its carbon target for 2050 doesn’t align to science or its legal obligations, and that it’s not enough to keep us safe. So twelve of us (aged 9 to 79) are taking them to court.
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£37,695
pledged of £65,000 stretch target by 764 people
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Plan B + 11 citizens
The UK Government knows its carbon target for 2050 doesn’t align to science or its legal obligations, and that it’s not enough to keep us safe. So twelve of us (aged 9 to 79) are taking them to court.
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This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Secretary of State and Committee in disagreement

Feb. 19, 2018

There have been some surprising developments in our case. We have received written responses to our claim from both the Government and the advisory Committee on Climate Change. It turns out the Government's decision not to revise the 2050 target following the Paris Agreement was based on a misunderstanding. 

The Secretary of State, Greg Clark, says his decision was based on advice from ...

Read More >>

Who are we? 

We are the charity Plan B and a group of 11 concerned citizens aged between nine and 79. We are all worried about our futures. 

The case

Climate change represents the most significant threat of our time. Even with the current 1˚C of warming, hurricanes, drought, flooding and wildfires are gathering momentum, stoking conflict, driving mass displacement of people and destabilising our way of life. If we go much further, we risk crossing ‘tipping points’ in the climate system (such as Arctic meltdown and rainforest burn) with dire consequences for humanity and life on earth.

But if the Government acts now, there’s also an immense opportunity. An urgent transition to a new energy base will deliver millions of new jobs and businesses in clean technologies. 

The UK Government claims to "lead international action against climate change". In reality it's leading us and others only closer towards the brink - we want to change that and change it urgently.

More specifically the Government knows its 'carbon target' for 2050 doesn't match the science or its legal obligations. It knows it’s not enough to keep us safe. So we’re taking it to court.

The purposes of the Climate Change Act and the carbon target are:

(i) to avoid serious harm to human welfare, now and in the future, and

(ii) to implement the Government's international obligations.

The Government is acting contrary to those purposes, which is unlawful. We argue it is also irrational, based on an error of law and a breach of human rights.

What are we trying to achieve?

If successful, the case will prompt Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to increase the ambition of the UK’s 2050 carbon target, in line with the Paris Agreement, helping to:

(i)  safeguard the future for people and life on earth

(ii) drive the investment and technical innovation needed to stay safe and to transition to a clean economy.

The case is part of a growing global movement to hold governments and corporates accountable for climate change through the Courts.

How much are we raising and why?

This is not a case for half measures - there's too much at stake. We need to raise £35,000 to cover the first stage of our legal costs.

We are represented by some of the country’s leading lawyers, including Bindmans and Jonathan Crow QC.

What is the next step in the case?

We have just filed our 'Grounds of Judicial Review' which starts the legal process. The Government responds in writing before the Court considers next steps.

This case affects all of us and we need your help. Please contribute and share the link as widely as you can.

And follow us on Facebook: @ThereIsAPlanB and Twitter: @PlanB_earth for regular updates on case progress.

Thank you!




WE ARE, PLAN B, a charity committed to holding governments and other to account for their contribution to climate change, and to supporting the emergence of a global movement of climate litigation.


WE ARE MHB, 9, Primary School Student

"I’m worried about climate change because I think it will make the world a bad place to live in when I grow up."



WE ARE Sebastien Kaye, 20, Human Geography and International Development Student

"If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates, we will reach catastrophic climate tipping points within my adult life."



WE ARE Maya Campbell, 21, Legal Researcher and Politics Student

"I wholeheartedly believe that a judicial review of the climate change target is in the best interests of the UK."



WE ARE Paris Palmano, 22, Humanitarian Worker and Student

"As I see it, the Government’s approach of delaying revision of the carbon target unfairly discriminates against the young."


WE ARE Lily Johnson, 31, Artist

"What I feel certain of, is that if we do not do whatever it takes, right now, in this present moment, it will be very clear to the next generation that we have betrayed them."


WE ARE Rose Nakandi, Health and Support Worker

"The UK government knows what it needs to do, so it should do it. If it is too difficult for the UK to honour its international obligations then how are poorer countries like Uganda going to do it?"


WE ARE William Hare, Lawyer, British Virgin Islands

"My house was destroyed by Irma, and even now much of Tortola is still without power and schools remain closed."


WE ARE Maya Doolub, 48, CEO and Founder of Small Sustainable Development Consulting Firm

"There is a serious risk that whole countries are going to disappear beneath the waves."



WE ARE Dr Jo-anne Veltman, 49, Children’s Doctor

"We know that climate change is the greatest public health threat this century and a threat multiplier for other global concerns, such as mass migration and conflict."


WE ARE Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, 75

"I do not want my grandchildren to live through the devastations that catastrophic climate change might cause throughout the world without attempting to do all I can."


WE ARE Dame Carmen Callil, 79, Publisher and Writer

"When I think of the childhood and excellent life I have had, I feel extremely strongly that an undamaged world will not be offered to my god children, or any other children."





Secretary of State and Committee in disagreement

Feb. 19, 2018

There have been some surprising developments in our case. We have received written responses to our claim from both the Government and the advisory Committee on Climate Change. It turns out the Government's decision not to revise the 2050 target following the Paris Agreement was based on a misunderstanding. 

The Secretary of State, Greg Clark, says his decision was based on advice from the Committee that greater ambition was not 'feasible'. Bizarrely, he claims that aligning the target to science and the Paris Agreement, might set a bad example to other countries, by encouraging them to set 'unrealistic' goals. According to this logic, targeting climate catastrophe is exactly what we should be doing!

Meanwhile the Committee has explained that it did not advise that a more ambitious 2050 target was unfeasible, and that greater ambition for 2050 is in fact perfectly possible.

We imagined that given this direct conflict between Government and Committee we would be granted 'permission' for a full hearing 'on the papers' (i.e. without us even needing to go to Court). But that hasn't happened. So we now need to renew our application for permission with an oral application to the Court. Bindmans (our solicitors) estimate we may have a hearing in 6 weeks. We urgently need your help in reaching our stretch target of £65,000.

We are confident that permission will ultimately be granted. Simply by bringing the case, and forcing the Government to explain its position, we have unearthed that its decision not to revise the 2050 target was based on a simple mistake. Once the penny drops for the Court that that is what happened, it's going to be hard for them to say there's no need for a full review. "So what if the UK's plans for tackling the greatest threat facing humanity are based on a misunderstanding of its Committee's advice? Move on! Don't dwell on it!" There are no guarantees in Court. But it would be surprising if that's the conclusion they reach; and if they do we'll appeal them all the way!

Plan B. Earth + 11

Our case is progressing!

Jan. 10, 2017

Thanks so much to the 700+ people who've backed our case with their 'hard-earned' and the 3,500 people who've shared our case page. Already that's a powerful statement that people understand what's at stake. Just by talking about the case and sharing the page people are helping to shine a spot-light on the most important challenge of our time.

Our claim was filed with the High Court on 8 December. On 3 January 2018 it was 'sealed' by the Court and has now been formally served on both Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (the Defendant) and the Committee on Climate Change (the interested party). Both now have three weeks to respond in writing.

A High Court Judge will then consider 'on the papers' whether there is an arguable case for granting the remedy that we seek (i.e. an appropriate revision to the carbon target). This is called the 'permission' stage of the process. We expect to have an initial decision on permission between February and early April.

We've agreed with the Government that our potential cost liability will be capped at £65,000. That's based on a potential liability of £5,000 for each of the 11 citizen co-claimants, and £10,000 for Plan B. £65,000 is therefore the total amount we now need to raise. Our solicitors and junior Counsel are acting on the basis of 'no win, low fee'. Assuming we're successful the funds will ensure they're appropriately remunerated.

Although the case is still at an early stage, already it's getting everyone talking about the government's inaction. See for example the links below:

"Ministers who fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions should face legal action, says former chief government scientist" (The Independent)

"Climate Litigation Needs to Become a Mass Movement"(Slate)

"Top doctors back legal action against Government on carbon emissions" (Daily Mail)

"Government taken to court over failure to deal with climate change(Friends of the Earth)

"We Need Not Be Spectators In the Climate Catastrophe" (Common Dreams)

"Why there’s a moral duty to sue our government over climate change" (Open Democracy UK)

Some of the young people supporting the case have made this short film about the cause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofACOBquPrw.

Please see and share.

Best wishes,

Plan B + 11

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