UK government’s ‘humiliating embarrassment’ after High Court ruling

High Court ruled the government’s Carbon Budget Delivery Plan ‘not credible’

coal burned power plant chimneys; argb color spacesee other similar images:


Michael Nelson

The UK Government “risks further alienating investors seeking a coherent and consistent policy approach to the net zero transition” after the High Court ruled their plan to tackle climate change was unlawful.

That’s according to James Alexander, CEO at UKSIF, who continued by saying that the ruling is “more evidence of the UK’s failure to meet its climate targets”, putting jobs and industry at risk.

“The government must urgently update its plans to give confidence to investors and businesses that the UK is open for business in the green industries of the future.”

The ruling, which came after a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project, found that the government’s Carbon Budget Deliver Plan was not credible and that it was irrational to expect the policies in the plan to meet 100% of their projected emissions savings. It went on to recommend that projected savings should be adjusted to be more realistic and that the climate plan should be strengthened to ensure the carbon budgets are met. The Secretary of State is expected to now have to draw up a revised plan within 12 months

Ed Matthew, campaigns director at climate change think tank, E3G, described the ruling as “a humiliating embarrassment”, noting: “This is the second time the government’s climate strategy has been found by the High Court to be too weak to meet the UK’s climate targets, and it also came on the day of the local elections when they were losing council seats across the country. These are not unrelated events.

“A government that turns its back on ambitious action to protect its citizens from the greatest long-term security threat we face and falls back in the economic race to build a clean tech economy, is not a government that people want to vote for. They are making themselves unelectable.”


The judgment by the High Court agreed with the challengers on a number of points.

First, the Secretary of State was given ‘incomplete’ information about the likelihood that proposed policies were likely to achieve the targeted emissions reduction; second, the assumption that all its policies would result in a 100% emissions reduction was wrong; third, the emissions savings relied on by the Secretary of State needed to be adjusted to reflect any expected shortfalls due to risks or barriers to delivery; and finally, the government had failed in its duty on sustainable development

ClientEarth senior lawyer, Sam Hunter Jones, said: “The courts have now told the UK government not once, but twice, that its climate strategy is not fit for purpose. This time the court made it emphatically clear: the government cannot just cross its fingers and hope for high-risk technologies and uncertain policies to plug the huge gaps in its plans.

“No more pie in the sky – this judgment means the government must now take credible action to address the climate crisis with a plan that can actually be trusted to deliver and with numbers that can be relied on.

“The good news is that with crisis comes opportunity. As its own expert advisers have repeatedly said, the government has a golden opportunity to reduce emissions with actions that will also create jobs, improve services and bring down household bills. Actions such as public transport investment and a home insulation roll-out will create new jobs, lower costs and provide energy security now and for generations to come – as well as putting us on track to meet our legal targets.”

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