Plan B Earth, an environmental campaign group that challenged the lawfulness of the UK government’s climate policies has lost their high court challenge this week. They argued that government ministers had not taken “practical and effective” steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The group wanted Mr Justice Bourne to give activists the go-ahead for a judicial review, but he refused permission.
Plan B argued that the climate change and human rights legislation had been breached and claimed ministers had failed to take practical and effective measures to adapt and prepare for the current and projected impacts of the climate emergency.
Activists wanted a declaration that ministers’ “failure” to take practical and effective measures to meet their climate commitments arising under the Paris agreement and the 2008 Climate Change Act breached the 1998 Human Rights Act.
Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B and one of the Claimants in the case, said: “We are all witness to the devastating impacts of the current level of 1.2 ̊C warming: deadly famines in Madagascar, East Africa and Afghanistan; wildfires and floods devastating communities and ecosystems around the world, including in the UK.
“Meanwhile the City of London continues to profiteer from financing a trajectory towards 3-4 ̊C warming, which is terrorism for the younger generation and terrorism for the Global South. Yet, the High Court has ruled that we cannot use the 1.5 ̊C Paris limit as the benchmark for the UK Government’s legal obligation to safeguard life, despite the scientific and political consensus that maintaining that limit is vital to safeguard life.
“Given the UK Government’s grand-standing over 1.5 ̊C through COP26, the public will understand that for the legal sophistry that it is. If the courts are bound to ignore the scientific evidence of what is needed to safeguard life, then ‘the right to life’ is no more than an illusion in a political economy which privileges the safety of short-term corporate profit over the welfare of ordinary people.
He concluded: “We’ll appeal to the Court of Appeal and, from there, to the European Court of Human Rights.”