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Environmental charity vows to continue legal fight against government

Sam Tobin is at the High Court

ENVIRONMENTAL charity Plan B said today it was not giving up the fight after legal action to force the government to update its carbon emissions target was thrown out by the High Court.

The charity – along with 11 British citizens aged nine to 79 – sought permission for a judicial review of the government’s refusal to amend the target introduced by the Climate Change Act 2008.

Plan B’s barrister Jonathan Crow QC told the High Court earlier this month that the Act imposes an “express duty” on Business Secretary Greg Clark to ensure Britain’s net carbon account for 2050 is at least 80 per cent lower than in 1990.

He said the government had refused to amend it “on the basis that he did not consider a revised target to be achievable,” arguing that this was “utterly irrelevant – necessity is what dictates the target.”

Plan B claimed that, since the target was set a decade ago, developments in scientific knowledge of climate change and the introduction of the Paris Agreement demanded a revision of the target.

It was “difficult to conceive of an issue of greater public importance than the government’s compliance with its legal obligations in relation to climate change,” Mr Crow said.

He concluded that Mr Clark’s “continuing refusal to amend the 2050 target means that the UK is … playing Russian roulette with two bullets, instead of one.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Committee on Climate Change, an independent expert body established by the 2008 Act, argued that it was not appropriate to amend the target.

Mr Justice Supperstone agreed, ruling that the “existing 2050 target is compatible with the Paris Agreement” and that Mr Clark was “plainly entitled … to refuse to change the 2050 target at the present time.”

Plan B director Tim Crosland said the charity was “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling, adding: “We consider it clear and widely accepted that the current carbon target is not compatible with the Paris Agreement.”

He said Plan B and the 11 claimants “continue to consider that a full hearing on an issue of such urgent and vital importance is necessary.”

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