Environmental campaign group Plan B has written to the UK Government threatening legal action over its ‘new deal for polluters’, for which the group says the Government has ‘no democratic mandate’.
“Now is the moment to stand up against this Government’s abandonment of its most basic responsibilities,” the group said in a statement, “while it ignores the scientific and economic advice and listens only to its corporate sponsors”.
On Tuesday (7 June), Plan B sent a letter threatening court action to Boris Johnson, Micheal Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The letter, which was sent ahead of Sunak setting out £3bn of green spending, compares this sum with the ‘billions’ committed to airlines and carmakers in the coronavirus recovery package, and funding for fossil fuels.
The proposed approach is quite clearly unlawful… It is no more than a fig-leaf for the Government’s new deal for polluters
The Government last week also announced a £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund to bring forward funding to help charities and environmental organisations start work on projects across England to ‘restore nature and tackle climate change’.
The government’s green recovery focuses on improving energy efficiency in homes and public buildings and was announced in the summer statement on Wednesday (8 June).
As part of the package, £1 billion is expected to be set aside to transform schools, hospitals and other public buildings so they are ‘greener and more energy efficient’.
The funding for public buildings will pay for measures such as insulation, efficiency and green heating technology to cut emissions and save energy in places such as schools, hospitals, military bases and prisons.
Opposition parties and environmental groups said, however, that the green investment pledge was inadequate to meet the challenge posed by global heating.
Rosie Rogers, Greenpeace UK’s head of green recovery, said: “Surely this is just a down payment?”
“The proposed approach is quite clearly unlawful,” wrote Plan B. “It is no more than a fig-leaf for the Government’s new deal for polluters.”
If there is no response by 17 July, the campaigners say they will take the next legal step, which is to send a “pre-action protocol letter”, which the Government would have to respond to within 21 days.
A government spokesperson told The Guardian: “Throughout this [coronavirus] crisis, we’ve continued to take our environmental responsibilities seriously and remain committed to meeting our climate change and wider environmental targets, including net zero [greenhouse gas emissions] by 2050.
Tackling climate change is at the heart of our economic recovery and the announcements expected in the summer economic update will follow on from those in the prime minister’s new deal speech last week
“Tackling climate change is at the heart of our economic recovery and the announcements expected in the summer economic update will follow on from those in the prime minister’s new deal speech last week, including reforesting Britain and making additional funding available this year to attract investment in green technologies.”
Plan B was this year successful in taking the Government to the appeal court over its green light for the expansion of Heathrow airport.