The High Court has ordered Ministers to update their plan and demonstrate how policies will achieve Net Zero climate targets by March 2023. Despite this, the Government is only “considering the next steps”.
L ast July, we won a legal challenge, brought together with Client Earth, Friends of the Earth and environmental campaigner, Joanna Wheatley, against the Government to force it to improve its inadequate and unlawful Net Zero Strategy.
The High Court ordered Ministers to update the plan and show how its policies would achieve the Government’s own Net Zero climate targets by 31 March 2023.
But a spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told us that the Government is “considering the next steps” following the court’s ruling that the strategy in its current form is unlawful.
This is not reassuring when the Government has already had more than six months to work on it. Making the Net Zero targets a road map to a sustainable future should be at the top of Whitehall’s agenda.
The recently appointed Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, Grant Shapps, now has an uphill task ahead of him.
But when it comes to facing up to the stark reality of the climate emergency, Shapps has a checkered past. It has been concerning to see his record in the Commons, where he has generally voted against action to tackle climate change. For example, in June 2021, he opposed a vote to make the UK’s net zero target the initial core mission of the Government-sponsored Advanced Research and Invention Agency.
Shapps also previously chaired the British Infrastructure Group, which put out a report in 2016 claiming that the lights could go out that Christmas due to the UK’s commitment to phasing out coal.
With only a month to go, we will be holding Ministers’ feet to the fire to meet the court-ordered deadline to come up with a proper plan to tackle the climate crisis and meet Net Zero targets.
▪ Text: This piece was originally published in Good Law Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 28 February 2023, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
▪ Cover: Unsplash/Kouji Tsuru. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)