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High Court Rules That Britain’s Climate Action Plan Is Illegal

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The UK government’s climate action plan was ruled illegal by the high court in a historic decision, citing insufficient proof of actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has been instructed to create an updated plan that complies with legally-mandated carbon budgets and emission reduction commitments within a year.

Environmental organizations Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth spearheaded the court challenge, which questioned the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s (DESNZ) March 2023 approval of the carbon budget delivery plan (CBDP). Justice Sheldon maintained four of the five grounds of the challenge, highlighting the decision’s lack of rationale and the secretary of state’s inadequate information.

The decision highlights issues brought up by climate scientists, such as disapproval of what they consider to be “deeply irresponsible” practice of permitting oil and gas drilling beneath offshore wind turbines. The importance of taking effective climate action is further highlighted by the government’s inability to accomplish climate targets set after breaking laws related to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

In response to the decision, Friends of the Earth’s Katie de Kauwe criticized the government for its “reckless and inadequate climate plans,” calling for a swift revision to bring them into compliance with both national and international goals. These views were shared by opposition leaders who criticized the administration for its continuous mistakes and called for urgent action to solve the climate catastrophe.

Experts stress the potential co-benefits of strong climate policies while highlighting the necessity of a realistic pathway to fulfill climate pledges. The decision emphasizes the necessity of taking decisive and efficient action against climate change, even in spite of claims of advancement from the government.

A DESNZ spokesman responded by defending the UK’s climate record and emphasising the country’s progress towards net zero and its well-thought-out goals. But the ruling highlights a critical juncture in climate policy by highlighting the necessity of clear, decisive action to slow down climate change and ensure a sustainable future.

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