On Monday, a record breaking day of heat across the British isles, the High Court ruled that the UK Tory Government’s Net Zero Strategy breaches the Climate Change Act.
The three legal challenges brought by ClientEarth, Friends of the Earth, Good Law Project and environmental campaigner Jo Wheatley, were heard together at the Royal Courts of Justice in June.
In a judgement published on Monday, Mr Justice Holgate has found that the Net Zero Strategy, which sets out plans to decarbonise the economy, doesn’t meet the government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act to produce detailed climate policies that show how the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets will be met.
It also finds that parliament and the public were effectively kept in the dark about a shortfall in meeting a key target to cut emissions.
The UK Government now has eight months to update its climate strategy to include a quantified account of how its policies will achieve climate targets, based on a realistic assessment of what it actually expects them to deliver.
The updated strategy will have to be presented to parliament for scrutiny by MPs.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“As if to illustrate the magnitude of the climate crisis, we are experiencing the highest temperatures on record this week.
“The Tories must stop being distracted by internal drama and start prioritising two things: the cost of living crisis it failed to nip in the bud, and ensuring that their Net Zero Strategy meets the standards of concrete action as set out in the Climate Change Act. No matter how ambitious the SNP Government's targets are and how successful Scotland is in achieving them, we need the UK Government to step up.
“At present, it is just another empty promise – as the High Court has now confirmed in this landmark ruling.”
The judgement can be found here.