Press release: 9 June 2022

Lawyers decry government’s secrecy as net zero case hearing concludes

The hearing in the first lawsuit challenging the UK government’s net zero strategy drew to a close today.

The legal action, brought by ClientEarth, Friends of the Earth and the Good Law Project, challenged the government’s net zero strategy as inadequate to meet its legally binding climate targets, in breach of its duties under the Climate Change Act.

The key revelation from the case so far is that the UK government withheld critical information on whether its climate plans will succeed in achieving the necessary emissions reductions.

Information from the legal bundles included mention of an assessment that the government’s plans only added up to around 95% of the reductions needed to meet the sixth carbon budget. This data had previously been omitted from its net zero strategy.

Sophie Marjanac, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “We’re surprised with the extent of critical information revealed in court, when it should have been available to the public from the outset.

“The reliability of this information even as estimate still remains in doubt. The fact that it has only seen the light of day because of our lawsuit reveals a concerning lack of transparency.

“It’s not good enough to simply put some ideas on paper and call it a strategy. The government needs to show the impact on emissions cuts it expects its policies will have and to what timescale, so that its plans can be properly scrutinised by Parliament and the public.”

As the hearing took place, the government overrode a local council to greenlight drilling for gas in the Surrey Hills. The announcement followed a decision last week to give regulatory approval to the Jackdaw oil field in the North Sea.

Marjanac added: “The government has made promise after promise on climate, but it’s failing to comply with its own climate laws and risks leaving today’s young people and future generations to suffer the consequences of inaction. Enough is enough. It must be held accountable.”

With the hearing concluded, the judge will now assess the arguments. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.


Notes to editors:
  • A briefing on the legal case can be found here.
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.