UK Emissions Trading Scheme ruled lawful

30th July 2021


Web p10 uk emissions trading scheme ruled lawful credit gettyimages 163395478

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management

Author

Chris Westcott

In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

The aim of both schemes is to motivate the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Each operates under a ‘cap and trade’ system. A cap is set on the amount of certain GHGs that can be emitted by sectors of the economy in a given period. The cap is divided into allowances, which are either given to those required to participate in the scheme, or must be purchased to cover emissions generated. The cap is reduced over time to cause a steady fall in emissions.

The claimant brought the application for judicial review on the grounds that the Paris Agreement required urgent action to limit GHGs. In approving the UK ETS with the cap and auction reserve price proposed, the claimant argued that this criteria was not fulfilled.

The court concluded it was not for the court to decide on an international treaty, but it could assess whether the defendants’ view of the Paris Agreement was tenable. The judge stated: “adopting this tenable view approach, I am entirely satisfied that the approach to the Paris Agreement... is one which is tenable and entirely appropriate”.

The claimant also argued that under the Climate Change Act 2008, “limiting or encouraging the limitation of activities” must be interpreted to mean a reduction in GHG emissions, which was not satisfied by the UK ETS.

The court considered the definition of a trading scheme in the Climate Change Act 2008, the long title of the Act, and the Explanatory Memorandum. Justice Dove concluded that a trading scheme under the Act “does not necessarily have to achieve a reduction in the activities consisting of GHG emissions or causing or contributing such emissions: it is sufficient that the design of the scheme limits or encourages the limitation of those activities”.

The application was refused.

Image credit: GettyImages


Transform articles

Landmark case against the Environment Agency

The claimants in Harris v Environment Agency applied for judicial review of the Agency’s refusal to expand the scope of an investigation into the effect of groundwater abstraction from wetland sites across the Norfolk Broads.

24th November 2022

Read more

Anglian Water has been fined £1,221,000 following two court cases relating to pollution incidents that occurred in 2019.

24th November 2022

Read more

Charlene Smith outlines how the environmental impact assessment process is implemented in Malta

21st September 2022

Read more

North Africa is a hotspot for climate change, and the challenges run deep. Huw Morris reports on a severely water-stressed region

21st September 2022

Read more

In R. (on the application of Friends of the Earth Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the Secretary’s decisions to approve pro-posals and policies prepared under the Climate Change Act 2008, and to publish the government’s Net Zero Strategy to comply with his obligations.

21st September 2022

Read more

A Norfolk garage owner who repeatedly ignored Environment Agency warnings about storing end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and parts has been jailed for six months.

21st September 2022

Read more

Embedding sustainability principles into business processes is becoming mainstream, but the term ‘sustainability’ is vulnerable to misuse.

21st September 2022

Read more

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently consulted on proposals to strengthen and improve the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), and has published its response and decisions.

21st September 2022

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert