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Feedback judicial review hearing of Government’s failure to ensure Food Strategy meets carbon budget targets

A judicial review hearing of the Government’s failure to ensure its Food Strategy contributed to meeting its carbon budgets will be held at the Court of Appeal on Monday 6 November and Tuesday 7 November 2023.

Posted on 03 November 2023

The judicial review claim is brought by Feedback who are represented by Rowan Smith of the environment team at law firm Leigh Day.

The claim is being heard after Feedback successfully appealed that the Government’s failure to budget its food strategy towards Net Zero was arguably unlawful under the Climate Change Act 2008, which says the Government must put in place policies to meet carbon budgets. Feedback argues that section 13 of the Act amounts to a continuing duty to prepare policies and proposals that will enable the carbon budgets to be met, as was established by the High Court judgment’s last year into the Net Zero Strategy.

Feedback says the Government had a duty to adopt measures to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption in its Food Strategy published in June 2022. It also says that advice from the independent body, the Climate Change Committee, stating that reductions in meat and dairy consumption were essential to meeting the Net Zero Target, ought to have been taken into account, or at the very least reasons for rejecting that advice (as the Government did) ought to have been given.

The campaign group says tackling emissions from the food and farming sector is key for the government to meet climate targets, because the livestock industry is responsible for about 14.5% of global emissions and, if current trends continue, the global livestock industry will be using up almost half the world’s 1.5°C emissions budget by 2030.

The Net Zero Strategy published in 2021 stated that the Food Strategy would support the delivery of the Net Zero Target, but the detail on how carbon budgets would be met in the food system was left to the Food Strategy. It is argued that, in finally developing the Food Strategy, the Government was required to complete that exercise under section 13, an exercise that last year’s Net Zero Strategy judgment found ought to include an assessment of the level of contribution the Food Strategy would make to meeting the carbon budgets and what risks there were to achieving that.

However, the Food Strategy neither addressed the emissions impact of meat and dairy, nor put in place policies for their mitigation.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback said:

“We are confident our judicial review will establish that the government has a legal responsibility to put in place policies to reduce emissions in the food and farming sector. We trust it will compel the government to act on the advice of its own climate experts, who have said time and time again that meat and dairy reductions are required if we are to meet our legally enshrined climate targets. We hope that our case will be the high-water mark for the government’s disregard and denial of the measures it must urgently adopt and implement to avoid climate and environmental breakdown.”

Ricardo Gama November 2021
Climate change Environment Judicial review Planning

Ricardo Gama

Ricardo specialises in environmental claims and planning law

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