UK’s Net Zero Strategy: High Court orders our leaders to lead

In the wake of this week's landmark judgment on the Government's supposedly groundbreaking Net Zero Strategy as "unlawful", the High Court calls for a radical overhaul of climate policy under the current Conservative Government.

Nick Lyth, Founder and President of pioneering climate change investors Green Angel Syndicate, says: "It is deeply ironic that, the day after passing a vote of confidence in itself, the Government should be found guilty of breaking its own legally-enshrined commitments to fight climate change."

Lyth continues: "But this should take none of us by surprise. We are in the position of chronic exposure to the effects of climate change precisely because of a continuous failure in leadership throughout the Western World from 1989 onwards, when the first climate change international treaty was vetoed by the US, UK and Japan in the first ever international climate change conference in Noordwijk, on the Dutch coast. Failure followed failure through the period when a little action could have made such a big difference, when the US (again) failed to endorse the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, having agreed it in 1997, allowing the problem to get worse and worse until now, when a vast amount of action is required to make only small differences initially, and yet still Donald Trump pulled the US out (again) of the Paris Agreement as recently as 2017, only two years after the US had signed up to it.

"The US is far from the only villain. The UK's performance is lamentable, and never more than now. A feeble policy response to the challenge under Boris Johnson, lambasted in the recent Climate Change Committee Progress Report for delivering less than 50% of the required target, will now be followed by the policies of a new Prime Minister chosen from the two final candidates for the role, both of whom have made clear their indifference to the climate change challenge."

Here is what the two candidates have said in the course of this last week:

"If we go too hard and too fast" toward net zero "then we will lose people," Sunak, the current front-runner, warned during an ITV News debate this week. Truss said she wanted to find better ways to achieve the goal that don't "harm people and businesses."

These pronouncements have come at the precise time when the UK has undergone the very worst heat since records began, with all the accompanying problems that brings – water shortage, travel restrictions, health problems and loss of life.

Lyth comments: "Somehow, sitting on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament, the problems that seem so real to all of us appear minor to these aspiring Prime Ministers. They need to change their attitude, and fast. The High Court quite clearly has no doubt. The Government cannot be allowed to pursue its own choice of course. It is now legally obliged to do something it would not otherwise have done: take Climate Change seriously, and deliver on the targets set out in the Net Zero Strategy. The Court has taken the matter out of the hands of these leaders, because it no longer has confidence in their ability to lead."

In a judgment published on Monday (18 July), the High Court ruled that the Strategy is "too vague", meaning that there were no assurances that targets listed under the Strategy, which aims to decarbonise the UK economy to net zero by 2050, could be met. The Court has ordered that the existing Strategy be fleshed out and amended within the next eight months.

Pioneering climate change investors, Green Angel Syndicate, applaud the decision. Lyth concludes: "It is a real breakthrough, and could make the difference needed to make up the 50% the Climate Change Committee sees is currently missing."

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bridge-over-river-in-city-258117/

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