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Landmark ruling states the government’s ‘net-zero’ strategy is unlawful

Commentary from Ben Standing, partner at Browne Jacobson

Yesterday, the High Court declared that the government’s Net Zero Strategy is unlawful, as it doesn’t explain how the targets will be met.

The decision follows similar decisions in other countries and reflects a growing willingness to consider and rule on climate-change-related claims in court. As the UK recorded its hottest ever day with UK temperatures exceeding 40degrees for the first time, we are reminded of the importance of tackling climate change.

Whilst the decision is being seen by many environmentalists as a success, it is important to watch how the government reacts to this. It is clear that unambiguous, quantified policies are required, especially in relation to reducing emissions from agriculture and domestic heating.

However the current economic issues are putting pressure on the government to reduce costs for households and it is not certain that politically the government is prepared to make such strong commitments.

The government now needs to decide whether to remake its Net Zero Strategy, or appeal to the Court of Appeal. These are uncertain times in relation to what the UK’s net zero policies will look like. How the new PM approaches this will is likely to be key to whether we meet our legal net zero obligations.

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