Govt not appealing ruling that Net Zero Strategy is unlawful

The government will now have to revise its strategy by March 2023.
  Published:  13 Oct 2022    |      2 minute read

The government has confirmed in a letter to the court and the parties involved in the case (Friends of the Earth, Good Law Project and ClientEarth) that it will not pursue an appeal against the High Court ruling that its Net Zero Strategy is unlawful.

In a landmark judgment in July, the High Court agreed with Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and Good Law Project that the strategy failed to show how the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets will be met.

Friends of the Earth lawyer, Katie de Kauwe, said:

"The government's decision not to appeal is welcome news. Ministers must now focus their energies on the action and detailed policies needed to address the climate crisis.

“The government has until the end of March next year to come up with a revised Net Zero Strategy that shows how the UK’s legally-binding climate targets will be met.

“The existing strategy is far too weak. The Climate Change Committee warned in June that there are only credible policies to achieve 39% of the emission cuts needed.

“Since then, the government has announced plans for fracking, new gas and oil developments and more roads which are the opposite of what's needed to meet our climate targets.

"The best way to put our climate goals back on track and ensure long-term sustainable growth, is to pull the plug on new fossil fuel developments and invest in the real solutions to the myriad crises we face: developing the UK’s immense renewable energy potential and insulating people’s homes.”

Sam Hunter Jones, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, said:

“Now that the government has confirmed it won’t be appealing, its efforts must now be directed at publishing a revised Net Zero Strategy that complies with July’s landmark judgment.

“This new strategy is also an opportunity for the government to address the spiralling cost of living crisis at the same time as making the required emissions savings. This can be done through a number of measures including a rapid roll-out of home insulation across the country and a swift transition to renewable energy.

“Skyrocketing energy prices and the worsening climate crisis make it abundantly clear: the government must move further and faster away from expensive and polluting fossil fuels and have a credible plan for net zero.”

Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said:

"So the government has been forced to accept that its flagship climate strategy is unlawful. Another embarrassing climbdown.

"Rather than threatening communities with fracking, Liz Truss and Jacob-Rees Mogg should focus their efforts on improving the strategy so they meet the UK's legally-binding climate targets and move away from expensive fossil fuels to deliver on affordable energy.

"Good Law Project is thrilled to have worked alongside our friends at ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth to deliver this landmark victory."

ENDS

Notes

1. The government had applied for permission to appeal the ruling, but – as the letter to the court confirms – has subsequently decided not to pursue this.

2. July's judgment ordered the government to update its climate strategy to include a quantified account of how its policies will actually achieve emission reduction targets by March next year.

3. The full judgment is available on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute website.  Friends of the Earth has also produced a detailed briefing on the case.