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High Court ruling shows government numbers ‘don’t stack up’

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A High Court ruling which found that the government’s Net Zero Strategy was unlawful is “embarrassing” and shows the Conservative Party “can’t even do basic maths”, Labour has said.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow climate change minister Kerry McCarthy laid into the Conservative government for the Court’s findings, which will force the government to make revisions and show how key emissions reduction targets will be met.

The legal challenge was brought by various environmental campaigners sceptical of the government’s efforts towards combatting climate change.

The High Court ruling states that Greg Hands, the minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, who was responsible for signing off the government’s Net Zero Strategy, didn’t have the legally required information on how carbon budgets would be met, even though he approved the strategy.

“Let’s be clear, we are here because the High Court have ruled that the government’s Net Zero Strategy is unlawful and is in breach of the Climate Change Act, and the Committee on Climate Change, which he cites, said only a few weeks ago that the government will not deliver net zero on current projections,” McCarthy said.

“Not only has the government failed to set out the detail of how it will reach net zero, but ministers can’t even do basic maths. As the High Court made clear, adding up the emissions cuts in the strategy will leave a 5 per cent shortfall.

“How embarrassing that his department must be dragged to court to hear what we have known for months, that the numbers simply don’t stack up.”

The Conservative Party has had a patchy record on trying to tackle climate change. Recent examples include the scrapping of grants for electric cars, which came “at the worst possible time” for the industry, and criticisms that it has not invested enough money in trying to improve energy efficiency in UK homes.

Furthermore, the majority of candidates in the recent debates to replace Boris Johnson as leader said they would extend the Net Zero target beyond 2050 or scrap it altogether.

McCarthy said the recent heatwave “made it clear why we have to act now” and asked, “Will the government get its act together, meet its legal obligations and finally deliver the green future that we need?”

Hands defended the government’s Net Zero Strategy, describing it as “a very comprehensive document” to tackle climate change.

“It is a comprehensive plan for meeting our climate targets and outlining measures to move to a greener, sustainable future,” he said.

“The court found that it had not complied with the Climate Change Act only in relation to specific procedural issues and the level of analysis published as part of the strategy.”

“When it comes to net zero and climate change, I am not going to take any lessons from the party opposite. This is the party that in 1997 said we see no economic case for new nuclear power stations.”

Hands added that the government was currently “considering” the implications of the court judgment and deciding whether to appeal.

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