UK government faces legal challenge over its failure to reduce meat and dairy to tackle climate emissions

25th Aug 22 by Christina O'Sullivan

We have launched a formal legal challenge against the UK government.

We have launched a formal legal challenge against the UK government for its failure to adopt measures to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption, contrary to the recommendations of its own expert climate advisers.

Both the independent review of the National Food Strategy written by Henry Dimbleby and commissioned by the government in 2019 and the Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act, have identified substantial reductions in meat and dairy as essential to tackle climate change. However, the Government Food Strategy, published in June, ignored the clear advice on meat and dairy reduction coming from both the CCC and the Independent Review. This makes the strategy unlawful and is at odds with the government’s Net Zero Strategy which stated the Food Strategy would outline how emissions savings in food and agriculture would be achieved in support of climate targets.

The only references to reducing livestock emissions are unproven technical approaches, which explicitly oppose the displacement of livestock. With regard to the alternative protein sector, the strategy makes it clear that this is seen as additional to livestock farming, not displacing it. Henry Dimbleby recently stated that meat reduction is critical for emissions reduction but is seen as ‘politically toxic’. Since the publication of the Government Food Strategy, the UK has experienced the hottest day on record. Meaningful action on climate change must be taken and this must include meat reduction.

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.’

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