‘End of the road’ for UK citizens’ climate case rejected by appeal court

The case, brought by 11 members of the public and the NGO Plan B argued the UK’s 2050 climate target was not in line with the Paris Agreement

Plan B campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 4 July. (Photo: Soila Apparicio)


A UK citizens’ lawsuit over the government’s 2050 climate target hit “the end of the road” this week after an appeals court refused to hear the case, the climate legal group Plan B announced.

Plan B and 11 Brits lodged the case in December 2017, seeking to compel business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark to raise the country’s target for cutting emissions by mid-century.

The plaintiffs were appealing the High Court’s decision in July not to hold a full hearing of the case. The Court of Appeals, however, sided with the High Court, saying there was “no compelling reason” why it should hear it.

Previously: UK judge postpones decision on landmark climate case 

While Plan B said it was disappointed with the ruling, it claimed in a statement on Tuesday that the legal action played a role in pushing the UK government to revisit its 2050 climate goal. Last year, the government asked the independent Committee on Climate Change to review the 2050 goal in light of the Paris Agreement’s second aim to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.

“That review is now well underway, and what matters is that the committee recommends a bold and ambitious target on the basis of the science and the precautionary principle,” said Tim Crosland, director Plan B.

In its appeal, Plan B and the plaintiffs argued that the High Court judge had “misunderstood” the Paris Agreement and was wrong to accept the government’s argument that it embodies two goals, “when in truth there is only one target.” The 2015 accord aims to limit the temperature rise to well below 2C and “pursue efforts” for 1.5C.

They also said the judge should not have refused permission to bring proceedings when the issues at stake are “of the widest public importance”.

The appeal court decided these arguments had no prospect of success.

This is one of a growing number of cases in which civil society and individuals are challenging government policies on climate change. The Irish High Court heard arguments last week on an NGO’s case over the country’s plan for limiting emissions, while the European General Court has said it will hear a case over the EU’s 2030 targets.

Global issues need global coverage

CHN is dedicated to bringing you the best climate reporting from around the world. It’s a huge job and we need your help.

Through our Patreon account you can give as little or as much as you like to support our work. It’s safe and easy to sign up.

Republish this article

Read more on: Breaking News | Climate justice | EU | Lawsuits