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Rishi Sunak faces a legal challenge in the High Court later this year from TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham over the government’s watered down of net zero policies.

Packham has been granted permission to take the Government to court over its decision to reverse some of its green policies in its carbon delivery plans, which Packham will argue was unlawful.

As an outspoken defender of the natural world, Packham applied for judicial review in October 2023 following the decision from the Energy Secretary and Transport Secretary to tear up the government’s timetable to phase out petrol and diesel powered cars and vans, gas boilers, off-grid fuel domestic heating and minimum energy ratings for rented homes. 

Packham will claim that it cannot be lawful for the Government to abandon policies designed to achieve net zero targets, without having other measures in place. Rishi Sunak announced a series of climate rollbacks last September.

“The pledges which the government abandoned were important parts of the UKs plan to reach Net Zero in order to ameliorate the effects of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss which threaten life on our planet,” Packham said. 

“Notably they, unlike some of the other parts of that strategy, were actually quantifiable, they were directly measurable in terms of carbon management. 

“To abandon them without having comparable quantifiable measures in place was reckless and dangerous. To abandon them without seeking qualified advice was undemocratic and arrogant. At this crisis point we need robust leadership that listens to best informed advice, not short termism and politicking.”

Chris Packham and the law firm Leigh Day will argue on three grounds; the first being the Government has a continuous duty to have policies in place to meet its commitments under the Climate Change Act. They will claim that the Government acted unlawfully by removing key policies from the  Carbon Budget Delivery Plan (CBDP) without putting others in place to ensure the net zero target is met.

Secondly, he will argue the Government failed to take into account the net zero target and advice from the Climate Change Committee (CCC). And thirdly that the government failed to consult the public and key stakeholders before abandoning the policies. 

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 over delivered 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.”

The High Court hearing will take place at some point in 2024.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

The post Chris Packham cleared to take Government to court over net zero policies appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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