In articles for Business Green and Environmental Finance, White & Case partner Mark Clarke and associate Janina Moutia-Bloom look at the decision on 18 July 2022 by the English High Court in a claim brought against the UK government by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project in relation to the Government's Net Zero Strategy. The High Court determined the Net Zero Strategy to be "unlawful" and "inadequate" with a view to meeting the UK's 2050 net zero ambitions, and ordered that the Strategy be refined and reissued by the end of March 2023.
Clarke writes: 'This case is at the heart of the accelerating global trend of climate change claims brought against corporations and governments. Climate activists have regarded the UK courts as lagging behind other European countries in their response to climate change litigation. This case was a further attempt to create a precedent in the English courts, and the decision marks a turning point. The judgment establishes the effectiveness of the CCA as a means of holding the Government to account, and will increase the attractiveness of the English courts as a forum for climate change cases.'
Looking specifically at the impact for corporates, Clarke notes: 'Having established a precedent against the Government, climate activists are likely to re-focus their attention on corporates, as demonstrated by ClientEarth's recent shareholder derivative action initiated against Shell's board of directors in the UK. Boards must therefore take climate change-related risk seriously and should implement strategies to mitigate such risk. Critically, in order to avoid facing legal or shareholder action, the approach taken by boards to decarbonising their business models must be science-based and data-led.'
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