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Climate campaigners take UK government to court over food strategy

Climate campaigners take UK government to court over food strategy

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Campaign group Feedback has launched a legal challenge against the UK Government for failing to support the transition to a low-carbon diet by encouraging people to eat less meat and dairy.

A claim for a judicial review has been filed at the High Court, arguing that the government’s food strategy breaks the law, including the Climate Change Act.

The campaigners claim that the government had failed to take into account environmental advice from its adviser Henry Dimbleby, the businessman behind fast-food restaurant chain Leon.

In a government-commissioned report, Dimbleby called for a 30% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2032.

YouGov polling in July found that only a third of people surveyed were willing to cut down on meat and dairy to help fight climate change. However, advice from the independent public body the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said that a shift in diet is “particularly important” and called for a 20% cut in meat and dairy consumption by 2030.

Many of Dimbleby’s recommendations were ignored in the Food Strategy White Paper, and others were modified.

Feedback’s legal challenge is grounded in the argument that the measures included are not sufficient to deliver emissions reductions consistent with the UK’s legally binding 2050 net zero target and interim carbon budgets.

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The challenge comes just weeks after the High Court ruled that the UK’s net zero strategy is insufficient, following a legal challenge by climate campaign groups.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback said: “The government has announced some ambitious emission reduction targets but failed to formulate the policies required to meet them. This creates the truly dangerous illusion that it is tackling climate change while continuing business-as-usual. Meanwhile in the real world, expert evidence unequivocally shows that curtailing meat and dairy is critical for all transition pathways to net zero. Rather than outlining plans to support the public and farmers in making the shift to low-carbon foods as promised, the Food Strategy blithely ignored the meat and dairy question altogether. We want the government to go back to the drawing board and come up with a strategy that delivers for the climate rather than one that simply spurts yet more hot air.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which oversees the White Paper, now has three weeks to submit its response to the review claim to the High Court.

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