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Revised Government Climate Plan Criticized and Taken to Court

According to Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, and the Good Law Project, the recently revised Carbon Budget Delivery Plan is considered illegitimate because it does not consider the potential risks associated with nascent technologies.

Organisations that compelled a revision of the first Net Zero Strategy are again challenging the government's climate plan in court.

This morning, three organisations, Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, and the Good Law Project, revealed that they had lodged documents at the High Court to ask for a judicial review of the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan that the government presented in March. This action resulted from a former court ruling that the initial decarbonisation plans the government had drafted needed to be more specific.

After the High Court agreed with campaigners that the government's climate strategy needed to be more detailed, a revised document was issued to outline how it intends to meet climate objectives in the 2030s.

Though the strategy was met with a blend of responses from climate policy professionals, some voiced their discontent with it, claiming it did not provide an adequately detailed policy plan for meeting emissions goals.

Last week, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) released a yearly assessment of the government's progress, highlighting how they were not on track to hit their post-2030 emissions targets. This intensified the preexisting criticism of the government.

This morning, the Good Law Project, ClientEarth, and Friends of the Earth jointly stated, following an analysis of the revised plan, that it still needs to comply with the Climate Change Act's demand that Ministers show how legal carbon budgets can be attained.

Despite being provided with a generous nine-month timeframe, Friends of the Earth lawyer Katie de Kauwe believes that the revised action plan falls short of the government's required obligations as specified by the Climate Change Act. She declared that they would indeed take the government to court if they failed to meet their climate commitments, and this is precisely what they are now in the process of doing.

The organisations declared that they intend to challenge the delivery plan because it gives "no true specifics" on the potential risks of the procedures and policies in the project not being achieved, as well as the dangers connected with the climate goals not being accomplished.

They noted that the substantial emissions savings that the government is banking on depend on some risky technologies, which raises "serious doubts" that the strategy will be realized to its fullest extent. For instance, the system assumes that hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and low-carbon aviation fuel will be available on a large scale. However, they are still at an early stage of commercialization.

The government spokesperson clarified that they "firmly oppose" the complainants' assertions and emphasized that they will be "vigorously fighting" the legal disputes.

The Carbon Budget Delivery Plan revealed that the UK will not reach the Sixth Carbon Budget, which covers the period of 2033 to 2037, with the current climate policies. The government expects to bridge the gap in emission reduction with policies yet to be quantified or revealed.

Nevertheless, Laura Clark, the CEO of ClientEarth, voiced her opinion that the new plan did not meet the necessary standards. "It is heavily reliant on untested and hazardous technological solutions over prompt action - however, the government 'presumes' that it will be accomplished without fail, despite these substantial dangers," she said. "Individuals in the UK and worldwide anticipate observing the UK to take decisive and prompt climate action. Yet, instead, we are witnessing procrastination and postponement from the government, and we are highly likely to miss out on our carbon emission reduction goals."

According to Emma Dearnaley, the legal director of the Good Law Project, the government's new plan needs to adequately address the potential risks of failing to meet necessary objectives. "What exactly," she queried, "are they attempting to conceal?"

We are thus taking legal action to ensure that we and others can evaluate the government's new climate change policy through increased transparency.

Friends of the Earth will assert that the government's methodology violates its essential obligation to sustainable development since it needs to put the UK on the correct route to reach the UN goal of reducing emissions by 68% compared to 1990 by 2030.

A week after the CCC's latest progress report to the government showed that there were only credible plans for a fifth of the necessary emissions cuts to fulfil the UK's crucial climate objectives, a legal challenge was begun.

The spokesperson for the government highlighted the UK's success in reducing carbon emissions as they responded to the legal challenge and stated that the country was on track to reach its target of a net zero emission economy by 2050.

A spokesperson declared that all the carbon budgets have been met until now and are projected to stay that way, stimulating job creation and financial activity across the UK, as well as diminishing emissions. Additionally, it was mentioned that between 1990 and 2021, Britain acquired a 48% reduction in emissions while its economy flourished by 65%, outrunning every other G7 country in decarbonisation. Moreover, plans for Power Up Britain have been established to cover the upcoming 15 years, setting the country toward achieving net zero by 2050.


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