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We challenged the Government to review its Clean Air Strategy – but we were denied permission to bring that challenge. But there’s a silver lining, as the judge left the door open for further challenges on the ‘precautionary principle’ on environmental hazards.
There is mounting scientific evidence from around the world that links dirty, polluted air with both the occurrence and severity of Covid-19. Put more starkly, air pollution means that not only are you more likely to contract the virus, you are also more likely to die if you do.
When the risk to human life is this great, we cannot afford to wait for the link to be proven beyond all doubt. The Government must urgently review its air pollution strategy. We believe they have a legal obligation to do so, and we intend to hold them to it.
Our legal challenge rests first on the precautionary principle. The law dictates that when scientific evidence about an environmental or human health hazard is uncertain and the stakes are high, precautionary measures must be taken. The potential risk to life posed by air pollution during the pandemic means that the Government must act even if the scientific evidence is not yet conclusive.
If we win – and the outcome of litigation is never certain – and establish the existence of the precautionary principle in UK law, it could change the way that the Courts view the climate emergency forever. The case could have profound impacts – in the UK and elsewhere.
The claimants in this case are Good Law Project, Mums for Lungs, Student Action for Global Health and the UK Youth Climate Coalition. The Pre Action Protocol letter that has been sent to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs can be found here. The Good Law Project has instructed James Maurici QC and Yaaser Vanderman from Landmark Chambers and the international law firm Hausfield, who are acting pro bono.
The legal challenge is being crowdfunded. If you’re in a position to do so, you can make a donation here.
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