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Campaigners to take government to court over ‘imaginary’ net-zero strategy

THE government is facing legal action over its “inadequate” net-zero strategy, which campaigners say breaks the law by failing to meet pledges on reducing carbon emissions. 

Campaign group Friends of the Earth, which launched the lawsuit today, accused ministers of setting out an “imaginary” pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a legally binding target. 

The absence from the pathway of policies needed to sufficiently reduce emissions constitutes a breach of the 2008 Climate Change Act, lawyers for Friends of the Earth argued.

A separate claim lodged by ClientEarth also contends that shortfalls in the strategy breach young people’s human rights, since they will be disproportionately affected by the future consequences of failing to tackle climate change now. 

“It’s not enough for the UK government simply to have a net-zero strategy, it needs to include real-world policies that ensure it succeeds,” said ClientEarth senior lawyer Sam Hunter Jones.

“Anything less is a breach of its legal duties and amounts to greenwashing and climate delay.”

Published last October, the government’s net-zero strategy includes commitments to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered cars by 2030 and gas boilers by 2035. 

However, it did not spell out how the strategy would be delivered or give specific figures for the emissions cuts required in each sector. 

Instead, lawyers say, the government is relying heavily on unproven technologies to reduce emissions.

ClientEarth also stressed that the projection for emissions in 2037 is twice the amount that the government is legally required to adhere to. 

A government spokesperson insisted that the strategy sets out the “specific, detailed measures we will take to transition to a low-carbon economy.”


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