The French Government found guilty in court of damaging the environment
Author: Begonia Filgueria
The French government was this month held liable for not complying with its carbon reduction targets and causing increases in the earth’s temperature and weather patterns. Although the Euro 1 fine handed down by the court was symbolic, the French Government was given 2 months to go away and come back with a solid plan on how it will meet its carbon reduction targets.
This is the second case so far in Europe against a Government and is likely to signal the start of climate change litigation against governments and companies who either run carbon-based business, are carbon dependant, or are part of their supply chain. There is no question that this will be on the agenda at COP26.
The UK Government has set itself a clear target of net-zero carbon by 2050 in the Climate Change Act. There are several policies driven by this net-zero goal but so far such as the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. However, the Climate Change Committee which tracks government progress has said that the UK is not in line to achieve this target.
Although this net-zero carbon obligation is a Government obligation it will mean that the Government will have to tighten permitted emissions and create more carbon sinks, invest in green infrastructure and technology. Rishi Sunak has also mooted a carbon tax which will increase business costs base.
It is also very likely that legislation will be passed later this year requiring the full disclosure of the effects that climate change has on a business and the effect a business has on the environment. You should be prepared.
But this really does present a huge opportunity for business growth in the green sector. Just look at the growth and affordability of renewable energy, the integration of battery storage, push for electric cars and charging points in the last 5 years.
This is an excellent time for all businesses, big and small, to carry out a review of their climate change governance and explore the risk and opportunities that the inevitable decarbonisation of the economy will present to their business model.