Chris Packham to challenge government’s net zero U-turn in court

Chris Packham has been given permission for a judicial review in the High Court challenging the government’s decision to U-turn on some of its green polices.

The conservationist first challenged the prime minister last year after the government watered down policies aimed at helping to cut UK climate-warming emissions to net zero by 2050.

The policies in question include the speeding up of the transition to zero emission vehicles by 2030, the phasing out of gas boilers by 2035 and a ban on fossil fuels heating off-grid homes from 2026.

Rishi Sunak argued the reason for the U-turn was because the UK’s approach to net zero was imposing “unacceptable costs on hard-pressed British families”.

The announcement of the judicial review was made by law firm Leigh Day, which is representing Packham. A judge will now decide whether it was lawful for ministers to decide to water down the policies, with a hearing to take place later this year, the law firm said.


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These measures were initially detailed in the CBDP presented to Parliament in March 2023, following a successful legal challenge by Friends of the Earth.

Solicitor Carol Day said: “Mr Packham will argue that it cannot be lawful for the government to abandon carefully thought-out policies designed to achieve net zero targets without having other measures in place.

“It would make the government’s report to parliament under the Climate Change Act nothing more than a snapshot in time.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We strongly reject these claims and will be robustly defending this challenge.

“We are the first major economy to halve emissions and have one of the most ambitious legally binding emissions targets in the world, having overdelivered on every carbon budget to date.

“We are committed to meeting our legal net zero commitments and families will now have more time to make the transition, saving some people thousands of pounds at a time when cost of living is high.”

In October last year, Plastic Rebellion activists disrupted a circular economy panel at Net Zero festival, featuring speakers from Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Tetra Pak and WRAP.

A month earlier, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince joined over 900 academics and campaigners calling for universities to transition to 100% plant-based catering to tackle climate change.

Climate crisisNature and the environmentNet zeroNewsSocial sustainability

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