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Case update 09 June 2022

Revealed in Court: Internal Government memo shows Net Zero Strategy falls short of what’s needed

We were at the High Court this week to fight for a Net Zero Strategy that’s strong enough to face up to the climate crisis that’s about to engulf us. Like many of you, we don’t believe the Government is doing enough. 

Under the Climate Change Act, the Government is required to produce climate policies that ensure their legally binding carbon budgets are met. But its attempt at the Strategy so far lacks all the specific, quantified plans we need to achieve a low-carbon future. 

For the Strategy to have any real impact, and for us to be able to hold the Government to account on progress, it must contain concrete deliverables. Without these, the Government is just sticking a finger in the air and hoping things will work out. If our case is successful, they will be forced to finish the job and fill in the gaps in their strategy.  

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We’ve made the case that the Strategy isn’t fit for purpose, but it turns out the Government already knew that. 

An internal Government memo uncovered in the course of our hearing this week revealed that the quantified policies in the Net Zero Strategy fall at least five percent short of the carbon reductions needed to meet the sixth carbon budget. This significant shortfall would, according to the Government, be made up through undefined and as-yet undeveloped future policies. We don’t think that’s legally good enough. This information had been kept from the public and is only out in the open now thanks to our challenge.

If the Government wants to meet its legal and moral duties to our children and grandchildren, the only route left is a strong Net Zero Strategy with clear, binding targets. If we don’t, future generations will be shouldering an insurmountable burden. 

We are grateful to our co-claimant climate activist Jo Wheatley, and to Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth who also brought cases alongside ours. 

We hope that the Courts will agree that the Government’s action falls short. The judgment will be handed down in the coming months. We will keep you posted.

You can read a written summary of our argument here and the Government’s argument here

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