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Government threatened with legal action over net-zero U-turn

CAMPAIGN groups are preparing to mount further legal action against the government unless it proves it can meet its legally binding net-zero targets.

The move follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he is watering down key climate policies.

The groups, including Friends of the Earth and Good Law Project, said that there were already concerns over the government’s ability to meet the targets even before Mr Sunak’s backsliding on green policies.

Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project are already taking the government to court over its net-zero plans in a joint legal challenge.

This followed previous joint legal action by the three organisations last year, which led to the High Court ordering the government to rewrite its original net-zero strategy after ruling it unlawful.

The Good Law Project has demanded that the government provides “urgent and satisfactory answers” to questions set out in a new legal letter, including how it will still meet its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act.

Emma Dearnaley, legal director of Good Law Project, said: “We are not at all convinced by Rishi Sunak’s bold claim that his government can backslide on key climate policies and still be on track to meet upcoming carbon budgets.

“Our letter is a warning that we are prepared to take further legal action if ministers refuse to show their working behind the Prime Minister’s assertion that the government will still meet its net-zero commitments.”

Friends of the Earth senior lawyer Niall Toru said: “Rishi Sunak’s decision to weaken UK climate policies will make it harder to meet our climate targets.

“We will carefully scrutinise any new set of plans. Friends of the Earth is already taking the government to court over its climate strategy, and we stand ready to take further legal action if Mr Sunak’s sums don’t add up.” 

The climate change committee, the government’s independent advisers on climate, found in June this year that its only remaining credible plans would achieve less than a fifth of the emissions cuts needed to meet the UK’s legally binding climate targets.


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