Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement on rolling back some of the government’s net zero-related policies, the co-chairs of the Bar Council Climate Crisis Working Group, Estelle Dehon KC and Ben Cooper KC, said:

“Many people in the legal community are concerned that the UK government is rolling back key elements of the policies introduced to meet the legally mandated carbon budgets and the legal requirement to achieve net zero by 2050. These policies have been relied on in public and before the courts as evidencing that the government would meet its legal obligations. Sudden changes in these policies create uncertainty and result in a loss of confidence in clear government policy statements.

“There is also widespread concern that industries, local authorities and individuals have acted on the policy commitments and announced dates, and made financial and administrative decisions accordingly.

“It is further concerning that the government has relied on these policies to demonstrate how it will meet its international commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

“The UK was previously a leader on responding to the climate crisis. Independent oversight has reported that the government is already failing to meet its legally binding targets and to implement and action its climate policy commitments. We urge the government to rethink its approach, in light of its international and domestic legal obligations to achieve net zero.”