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Case update 20 February 2024

The Government didn’t want to publish these climate risk tables – here they are

For nine months, the Government has been fighting to keep its assessments of the risks surrounding its climate plans in the dark. It’s not hard to see why.

Good Law Project has been fighting a Government blackout for nine months, taking legal action to publish its assessments of the risks facing its plan to reach net zero. Now that we can publish these risk tables, it’s plain to see why Ministers have been trying to keep them under wraps.

Our initial analysis of these assessments shows that the Government’s Carbon Budget Delivery Plan to hit the UK’s legally-binding climate targets is already in jeopardy. 

Despite the Tories’ repeated claims that the UK is a “world leader” in climate policy, the risk tables reveal the Government has declared its own policies rely on technology that has “never been deployed at scale”, are “not… possible at current funding levels” and beset with “inherent uncertainties and risk”.

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Some of the key proposals – including sectors such as onshore wind, carbon capture and energy efficiency, which are expected to deliver huge savings in emissions – are already facing delays, an overreliance on unproven technology and funding cuts.

It’s impossible to tell if a plan is working without being able to see the risks that surround it. Now Parliament, experts and all of us can see the gap between the Tories’ rhetoric and the reality.

“If it wasn’t for our legal action, Ministers would have continued to hide these alarming assessments” said Good Law Project’s Legal Director, Emma Dearnaley. “But now they must face the music and come up with solutions. There’s no time to lose”.

We’re arguing in court that the Government’s refusal to disclose the risk tables is in breach of the Climate Change Act, which requires it to publish sufficient information for proper scrutiny of net zero policies. If we win, it will help to set a new and higher standard of transparency for publishing climate plans.

This is the focus of our side of a wider legal challenge with Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth against the Government over its inadequate Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, which is being heard in the High Court over the next three days.

There’s already a long list of reasons why Rishi Sunak can’t be trusted to deliver net zero and the huge economic benefits it will bring. Now we’ve brought the risk tables to light, we can make sure the Tories are properly held to account.

  • On the back of this success, we’re pushing forward with a body of work to protect our environment – from forcing the Government to unleash the power of onshore wind to making water companies clean up their act on sewage. Anything you can give to support this and our wider work will help us make positive change.