The Government’s Net Zero Strategy ruled as ‘unlawful’

on 9 August 2022

On 18 July 2022, the High Court declared that the UK’s Net Zero Strategy is in breach of the law as it doesn’t explain how targets will be met. It also finds that the public and parliament were left in the dark about a shortfall in meeting a crucial target to cut emissions.

The Secretary of State must revise the strategy by March 2023. The Government will now have to update its climate strategy to include a quantified account of how its policies will achieve targets based on a realistic assessment of what it expects them to deliver.

The High Court ruling from Mr Justice Holgate states that the Net Zero Strategy was signed off by Greg Hands, the minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Mr Holgate goes on to mention that the strategy is too vague, and Mr Hands didn’t have the legally required information on how carbon budgets would be met. There were no assurances that targets listed under the strategy, which aims to decarbonise the UK economy to Net Zero by 2050, could be met.

The UK High Court has ruled that the Government’s Net Zero Strategy that was published last October doesn’t sufficiently detail how it will meet its emissions targets and therefore has contravened the Climate Change Act. This follows a successful legal challenge by Good Law Project, Client Earth, Friends of the Earth and environmental campaigner Jo Wheatley. The Government must cover the costs of the charities that lodged the legal challenge.

Ministers must now publish a revised version within the next seven months. The updated Net Zero Strategy will have to be presented to parliament for scrutiny by MPs.

“The dangerous heatwave this week is a stark reminder of the very real threat we face. Our infrastructure and homes were designed for a climate that no longer exists. This cannot wait. The Net Zero target must be a road map to a sustainable future – not a lie we tell our children.” – The Good Law Project said in a statement.