What’s Going On Here?

This week climate campaigners have launched a formal legal challenge against the UK’s ‘green’ recovery plans, stating that they are unlawful in light of the UK’s obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What Does This Mean?

Do you remember that wonderful moment back in February when Heathrow Airport expansion was ruled unlawful on climate grounds? Well the same pressure group behind that – Plan B – are lodging this new legal challenge.

The group sent a ‘pre-action’ letter to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday stating that the COVID-19 recovery program is unlawful through failing to take into account the Climate Change Act, The Paris Agreement and The Human Rights Act. The letter highlights clearly how the government’s building plans do not adequately take into account the climate commitments the UK is legally bound to.

The plans set out £3 billion of ‘green spending’, which may initially sound like a fair amount, but means very little when similar amounts are being committed to fossil fuel reliant industries like airlines and car makers, along with a £27 billion road building scheme which will negate nearly all CO2 savings from the already too slow transition to electric cars.

Whilst the £2 billion home improvement scheme is welcome, it doesn’t scratch the surface of reaching two thirds of the homes currently failing energy efficiency targets. And at a time when 15% of UK species are at risk of extinction, the £40 million for nature restoration jobs barely amounts to sticking on a plaster after years of funding cuts.

Why Should We Care?

Because what happens in the imminent future will determine how successful we are as a planet in averting the worst effects of the climate crisis. The recovery from the Covid-19 crisis has been advised as a once in a lifetime chance to tackle climate change by the Committee on Climate Change. However, UK green recovery plans are inadequate and dwarfed by those of European countries – with Germany investing £36bn and France £13.5bn.

Even the EU recovery plans have been scrutinised by the likes of Greta Thunberg, who along with fellow youth activists has written an open letter to the EU and global leaders demanding they treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is. #FaceTheClimateEmergency 

It may sometimes seem like us environmentalists will never be satisfied, but this is because most of us understand the scale of the changes needed to tackle the climate crisis, and we are simply not seeing this reflected in our government’s actions. We are also not alone – with polls showing that the vast majority of the UK support a green recovery! The fact that successful legal action is being taken over new building projects and more on climate grounds is inspiring and something to be celebrated.

Hopefully we will see continued successes surrounding this challenge, Chris Packham’s HS2 court case and many other climate justice issues globally.

Be Curious!

  • Check out more about Plan B’s work here. You can support them by volunteering for them or donating money via their paypal. 
  • Read the #FaceTheClimateEmergency open letter to the EU and global leaders by youth activists and add your name.
  • Join your local environmental campaign group and help push for action in your local area! We recommend Extinction RebellionFriends of the EarthGreenpeace and The Wildlife Trusts but there are plenty others available on a more local level.

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