Climate Activists Sue U.K. for Not Effectively Tackling Its Meat and Dairy Problem

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Is England perpetuating the climate crisis by not having a plan to reduce meat and dairy consumption? A group of activists thinks so.

Members of the marketing campaign group Feedback filed a claim for judicial review at the High Court. The group is asking the court to force the government to take its own recommendations on climate change and formulate a strategy to address meat and dairy consumption.

The filings

According to the filings, the government is not taking into account the recommendations of its own climate change committee and its adviser, Henry Dimbleby. In a strategy released in June, the committee pushed for reductions in meat and dairy consumption as animal agriculture is a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

“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,” Feedback’s executive director Carina Millstone said in a statement.

british breakfast
Photo by Deepansh Khurana on Unsplash

Rowan Smith, a solicitor at Leigh Day, the firm representing the group said the client believes that there is “something inherently wrong with the government promising to address carbon emissions as part of its food strategy, but then omitting any action on one of the biggest contributors to the problem, namely meat and dairy.

“The legal case focuses on the government’s failure to take into account expert and independent advice. What is the value in having that advice, if the government can effectively ignore it? Our client hopes to test these arguments in court.”

The U.K.’s legal climate woes

Leigh Day recently represented plaintiffs in another climate-related case. In July, a judge sided with environmental groups Friends of the Earth and the Good Law Project along with environmental activist Jo Wheatley. The judge ruled that the U.K. government’s plan on attaining net-zero emissions was unlawful as it failed to provide sufficient details on meeting its target.

Wicked Kitchen
Leading plant-based brand Wicked Kitchen is sold at Tesco U.K. stores | Courtesy

England and the U.K. are at the forefront of the alternative protein spaces, with increasing demand and offerings at all major supermarket chains and restaurants. In July, a survey found 25 percent of Brits reduced animal product consumption during the early days of the pandemic and have continued to reduce or eliminate meat and dairy from their diets.

But a recent YouGov poll found only one-third of consumers surveyed say they’re willing to reduce animal products in their diet to help fight climate change.

The climate committee has repeatedly urged for at least a 20 percent reduction in dairy consumption and a 35 percent reduction in meat by 2050 to help thwart climate change.

Lead photo by Dmitry Dreyer on Unsplash


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