We were delighted to see that on 18th July 2022, during the UK’s hottest ever heatwave on record, a High Court Judge ruled the UK Government’s Net Zero policies unlawful on 2 grounds; the strategy didn’t show how it would meet the UK’s obligations under the Climate Change Act and, due to this essential information not being provided, it was wrongfully approved by the Secretary of State.
Under the 2008 Act, the Secretary of State has a duty to make sure the country’s carbon emissions in 2050 are at least 100% lower than emissions in 1990. Since 2008, the Government has set carbon budgets – divided into five-year segments – in order to reach the 2050 goal.
On 19 October 2021, the Secretary of State submitted the Government’s carbon budget for 2033 to 2037 before Parliament as part of its Net Zero Strategy report.
The final decision to approve the strategy before presenting it to Parliament was taken by a Minister on behalf of the Secretary of State. However, the court heard that in the process of developing the policy, officials advised the minister that measures would only achieve 95% of the emissions reductions required to meet the UK’s climate targets, crucial information which was held back from both the public and parliament.
The final decision to approve the strategy before presenting it to Parliament was taken by a Minister on behalf of the Secretary of State. However, the court heard that in the process of developing the policy, officials told the minister that the “quantifiable proposals and policies” would achieve only 95% of the emissions reductions required to meet the carbon budget goal.
The three claimants – Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth, and Good Law Project – called into question two decisions by the Secretary of State. The High Court ruled against the Government’s inadequate net-zero strategy, concluding that it breaches the Climate Change Act, and needs to be strengthened.
What does this mean for your business?
This court ruling could see new environmental legislation introduced sooner rather than later. We’ll know more in the coming months when the Government presents the updated strategy to the scrutiny panel.
If you’re a business who is already advancing sustainability practices then you’re one step ahead. Embracing sustainability makes a business more resilient to change; appealing to investors, employers, and consumers alike.
For those businesses who haven’t yet got started on their sustainability journey, perhaps this is a stark reminder than sooner is better than later.
For advice on how to make your business more sustainable, Groundwork’s Sustainable Business consultants offer impartial, tailored sustainability advice.
Contact our environmental experts today to find out more.