Are we being ‘greenwashed’ by the current Government?
ClimateEarth lawyers certainly think so, and earlier this week, as the UK boiled in a heatwave with unprecedented and dangerous temperatures causing havoc and destruction across the country, they held the government’s inadequate net zero strategy to account by winning a landmark case in the High Court.
ClimateEarth lawyers (who teamed up with Friends of the Earth and the Good Law Project), argued that the Government’s net-zero strategy, which sets out plans to decarbonise the economy by 2050, doesn’t meet the Government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008 to produce detailed climate policies.
A policy as wide-ranging and impactful as net-zero requires the full co-operation of the public who need to be able to understand and scrutinise the plans the Government is putting in place, but also appreciate the impact these plans will have on their livelihoods and businesses. Lawyers argued that the Government failed to provide enough detailed and transparent information on how its approach will reduce emissions sufficiently to meet its legally binding carbon budgets – targets which limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that the UK can emit over five year periods on the road to net zero.
So what’s next? The Government will have to update its net-zero strategy which will go to MP’s for further discussion and debate in Parliament. But as Sam Hunter-Jones, ClientEarth lawyer said after the High Court ruling, “It’s not enough for the UK Government simply to have a net zero strategy, it needs to include real-world policies that ensure it succeeds. Anything less is a breach of its legal duties and amounts to greenwashing and climate delay.”
Let’s hope whoever the new PM is takes note, and develops a more robust policy that aims to ensure that the heatwaves we’ve been experiencing don’t become the ‘new normal’.