Green campaigners are threatening to sue the UK government over its green recovery plan which they claim fails to comply with the Paris Agreement and is just ‘a fig-leaf for polluters’.
Just as the third runway of Heathrow Airport was ruled unlawful because of the failure to assess its adherence with the Paris accord, this legal threat by green campaigners may further stifle Britain’s economic recovery.
Boris Johnson’s much-vaunted green recovery plans are inadequate and “clearly unlawful” as they do not match up to the government’s legal obligations under the Paris climate agreement and the UK’s own net zero emissions target, green campaigners have said.
On Tuesday, a letter threatening court action was sent to the prime minister and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, by the pressure group Plan B, which successfully took the government to the appeal court this year over its green light for the expansion of Heathrow airport.
Sunak will set out £3bn of green spending, focusing on improving energy efficiency in homes and public buildings, in his summer statement on Wednesday. But the letter contrasts this sum with the billions committed to airlines and carmakers in the taxpayer-funded coronavirus recovery package, and funding for fossil fuels.Advertisement
“The proposed approach is quite clearly unlawful … it is no more than a fig-leaf for the government’s new deal for polluters,” wrote Plan B in a letter before action, a legal first step that gives ministers a chance to reply before instigating formal legal proceedings.
If there is no response by 17 July, the campaigners will take the next step, which is to send a “pre-action protocol letter”, which would oblige the government to respond within 21 days.
The campaigners argue that the Heathrow case – in which the government’s go-ahead for a third runway was deemed unlawful by judges as it failed to take into account the UK’s obligations under the 2015 Paris agreement – sets a precedent that forces ministers to assess the impact of their Covid-19 stimulus plans on the climate crisis.