UK government sued over failure of its climate strategy

Leading environmental groups ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth launched separate legal proceedings against the UK Government on Wednesday, 12 January, for not implementing its climate strategy for net zero emissions.

The groups argue that the government’s strategy is insufficient to tackle rising emissions and its policies fail to deliver on previous promises made during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) last year.

“ClientEarth is taking the UK Government to court for its inadequate net zero emissions strategy, arguing that its failure to establish credible policies to address climate change is illegal,” the group said in a statement.

The government “has failed to meet its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act to demonstrate that its policies will reduce emissions enough to meet a legally binding carbon budget,” he added.

According to ClientEarth, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government has not implemented climate policies that guarantee the success of its net zero emissions strategy and accuses it of relying on unproven technologies that will exacerbate emissions and force the government to implement drastic measures in the future.

Failure to implement the government’s strategy and meet its goals will exacerbate already growing climate instability and will significantly endanger the lives of future generations, who will bear the brunt of the government’s failure to take responsibility for such crises, the group said.

“It is not enough for the UK Government to just have a net zero emission strategy; it must include real-world policies that guarantee success. Anything less than that is a violation of your legal duty and amounts to ‘environmental washing’ and climate underdevelopment,” said Sam Hunter Jones, ClientEarth senior attorney.

“The government insists that those who produce pollution must be responsible for the costs of managing it. But the clean-zero air castle approach carries that risk to young people and future generations, who will be the hardest hit by the climate crisis,” he added.

During COP26, which took place from 31 October to 12 November last year in Glasgow, Johnson assured that the Government’s climate plan was to leave a suitable environment for future generations and that its policies would reflect this.

The government’s Climate Change Committee said after the summit that the net zero-emissions strategy was a “breakthrough”, as well as affordable and achievable.

However, ClientEarth notes: “The net zero emission strategy not only lacks adequate policies and relies on unproven technologies, but also ignores short-term solutions that will have an immediate impact, including those recommended by the consultants themselves. Government, Climate Change Committee”.
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