Campaigners win right to challenge England’s food strategy over climate crisis
Feedback argues ministers failure to include measures to reduce production of meat and dairy products was unlawful Ministers broke the law by failing to make plans to cut consumption of meat and dairy in England , activists will argue in a legal challenge after they were granted permission for a full judicial review of the governments food strategy. Overturning two previous decisions, the court of appeal ruled that the food systems campaigners Feedback could challenge the national food strategy on the basis that it failed to take into account ministers duties to cut carbon emissions. The government had argued that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which drafted the strategy, was not bound by the obligations set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. But Lord Justice Lindblom, leading a panel of three judges, said: We have decided to grant permission to apply for judicial review, having in mind that the case does raise questions of considerable general importance. The Climate Change Committee has identified substantial reductions in meat and dairy consumption as being essential to tackle the climate emergency. But when the 27-page national food strategy was published 12 months ago it included no specific policies supporting the transition to a low-carbon diet. Feedback began legal action soon after, with a letter before claim to Defra. But campaigners were refused permission for a judicial review hearing. At a second oral hearing in December, they were refused again. They were at the high court in London on Friday for a last-ditch attempt to overturn the refusal. A successful legal challenge would force the government to redraft the food strategy to include radical measures to cut Britons consumption of animal products. It could also force other government departments, such as the Department for Transport, to put in place policies to reduce emissions to meet carbon budgets. Carina Millstone, Feedbacks chief executive, said she was thrilled at the outcome of the appeal. We already knew when the food strategy came out it was completely useless and unfit for purpose, for health, food, farming and the climate. Now we know today it may well be illegal as well, she said. Its really high time that the government stops ignoring the advice of its own climate advisers. The Climate Change Committee has been clear that reductions in meat and dairy are a non-negotiable part of all their pathways to net zero. It has called putting in policy measures for this change extremely important. So Im thrilled that today the judges agreed with our analysis that ignoring the advice of climate change advisers may well be illegal, and I hope it marks the beginning of policymakers in government taking action that may well mitigate climate change in food and farming, rather than continuing to hurl us all towards climate catastrophe.