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Campaigners are taking the government to court today to argue it broke the law by failing to adopt measures to cut consumption of meat and dairy in its National Food Strategy.

The claim is being heard in the High Court after campaign group Feedback successfully appealed that ministers’ failure was arguably unlawful under the Climate Change Act 2008, which says the government must put in place policies to meet carbon budgets.

Feedback claims the government had a duty to adopt measures to reduce meat and dairy production and consumption in its Food Strategy published in June 2022.

It also says advice from the independent body, the Climate Change Committee, stating that reductions in meat and dairy consumption were essential to meeting the UK’s net zero target, ought to have been taken into account.

The Net Zero Strategy, published in 2021, stated that the Food Strategy would support the delivery of the net zero target, but the detail on how carbon budgets would be met in the food system was left to the Food Strategy.

In June, the court of appeal ruled that Feedback could challenge the strategy on the basis that it failed to take into account ministers’ duties to cut Carbon Emissions, overturning previous decisions by the courts.

The judicial review claim has been brought by Feedback, which is represented by Rowan Smith of the environment team at law firm Leigh Day.

Last week, Feedback launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for another judicial review challenge against the government’s rowback on plans for mandatory reporting on food waste by food and drink companies.

Carina Millstone, executive director of Feedback, said: “We are confident our judicial review will establish that the government has a legal responsibility to put in place policies to reduce emissions in the food and farming sector.

“We trust it will compel the government to act on the advice of its own climate experts, who have said time and time again that meat and dairy reductions are required if we are to meet our legally enshrined climate targets. We hope that our case will be the high water mark for the government’s disregard and denial of the measures it must urgently adopt and implement to avoid climate and environmental breakdown.”