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News Item: Campaigners sue UK over ‘inadequate’ climate plan

Green campaigners on Wednesday launched legal actions against Britain alleging the government’s “pie-in-the-sky” climate plan was “inadequate” to deliver promised steep cuts in emissions.

Two environmental pressure groups, ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth, announced they have started separate legal proceedings at London’s High Court against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration.

The UK government, which seeks to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 to help tackle climate change, insists it has set out detailed steps to help transition to a low-carbon economy.

Friends of the Earth however has filed for a judicial review to challenge the plans, arguing that they are unlawful.

“With characteristic sleight of hand the government has set out an imaginary pathway for reducing carbon emissions but no credible plan to deliver it,” said Friends of the Earth lawyer Katie de Kauwe in a statement.

“A rapid and fair transition to a safer future requires a plan that shows how much greenhouse gas reduction the chosen policies will achieve, and by when.

“That the plan for achieving net zero is published without this information in it is very worrying, and we believe is unlawful.”

ClientEarth argued that the government’s “pie-in-the-sky” plan lacked credible strategies to slash emissions adequately — and risked more drastic measures later on.

“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,” said ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter Jones.

“Anything less is a breach of its legal duties and amounts to greenwashing and climate delay.”

In response, the government said it had outlined proposals to slash emissions in October, including a ban on new diesel and petrol cars by 2030.

It also cited plans to decarbonise electricity production by 2035 — and to make all new heating systems low-carbon by 2035.

“The UK has cut emissions faster than any other G7 country over the past few decades,” said a spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“The net zero strategy sets out specific, detailed measures we will take to transition to a low carbon economy.”

London’s High Court will decide at a later date whether or not to allow a full hearing of both cases.

Britain hosted the COP26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow last November.