The Climate Change Act commits the UK government by law to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050.
Under the Net Zero strategy, published in October 2021, the UK government committed to banning the sale of new petrol vehicles by 2030 and gas boilers by 2035; however, the strategy failed to highlight how this would be delivered. As a result, in early 2022, ClimateEarth (CE), an environmental charity which uses the law to protect life on Earth, submitted a case to the High Court stating that the UK government’s net zero strategy was inadequate and breached the Climate Change Act.
Alongside Friends of the Earth and Good Law Project, the groups argued that the government failed to show how the policies would achieve the legally binding carbon targets and relied on technologies with low readiness levels.
In July of 2022, the High Court ordered the UK government to deliver a plan detailing how its climate change strategy would achieve its carbon emission targets as the current strategy “lacked any explanation or quantification of how the government’s plans would achieve the emissions target, and as such had failed to meet its obligations under Climate Change Act (CCA) 2008” (The Guardian).
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) published the resulting update in March this year with further details about its strategy for decarbonizing the UK economy. Researchers and critics responded by stating that the plans did not go far enough, with doubts raised as to whether the changes will enable the UK to meet its 2050 statutory net zero emission targets (LSE). It appears that there is still a considerable way to go before any published plans fully comply with the terms of the 2008 Climate Change Act.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Manager J Michael Thompson.