United Kingdom

ClientEarth v. Secretary of State

Jurisdiction: High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division


Principle law(s): Climate Change Act


Side A: Client Earth (Ngo)


Side B: United Kingdom (Government)


Core objectives:

Environmental group challenged government's decision to approve natural gas plant.


Summary
On January 30, 2020, the environmental group ClientEarth filed an action in the High Court challenging the UK government's decision to approve a natural gas plant, which would be Europe's largest. 

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy approved the plant in October, despite the Planning Authority's recommendation that the plant be blocked due to climate change considerations. According to a press release issued by a barristers union, the complaint alleges, among other things, that the Secretary misinterpreted the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy in assessing the project's greenhouse gas emissions; failed to properly assess the carbon-capture readiness of the facility; and did not consider the UK's mandate to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in a procedurally fair manner or, alternatively, failed to give adequate reasons for her assessment of the net zero target. The High Court gave ClientEarth permission to sue the government. 

The High Court ruled for the defendants on May 22, 2020. According to press reports, the judge determined that the case involved policy questions requiring a balancing of interests, and that other public interests weigh against the UK's climate goals and for the plant's approval. These include the plant's contribution to security and diversity of energy supply.
Case documents

Related laws and policies
  • This law implements United Kingdom legislation
    Climate Change Act

    Passed in 2008 Legislative

    The Act provides a long-term framework to improve carbon management, to help the transition to a low carbon economy, encourage investment in low carbon goods and provide an international signal. The Act establishes a legally binding target for the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net z...

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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