UK Government Faces Legal Action Over Failure To Fight Climate Change

  • Date: 29/01/17
  • Ian Johnston, The Independent

Lawyers say ministers have been in breach of legal requirements to come up with a plan to make major cuts to the UK’s fossil fuel emissions for years – and further delays in its publication could be the final straw

The Government is facing legal action over its failure to come up with a plan to dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels in order to meet the UK’s international commitments in the fight against climate change.

Britain has agreed to cut emissions by 57 per cent by 2032 but is currently nowhere near meeting that goal.

The latest expert report predicted the target would be missed by 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of all the greenhouse gases currently produced by industry.

The Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan was supposed to have been ready at the end of last year but the publication date was first put off until February and then again to the end of March.

The Independent can now reveal the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is responsible for climate change after Theresa May abolished the dedicated department, is no longer standing by this latest deadline.

Under the 2008 Climate Change Act, the Government has a legal duty to come up with ways to meet its carbon reduction targets.

Environmental legal activists at ClientEarth had already put Theresa May on notice that it was considering legal action over the Government’s lack of progress on the issue, telling the Financial Times it had been breaking the law for several years.

And climate lawyer Jonathan Church said if the March deadline was missed this could prompt them to go to court.

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