Later this week the high Court will hear submissions in a judicial review of various aspects of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) which is intended to take the place of the EU ETS now that the Brexit transition period has ended.
Both UK and EU ETS are market-based "cap and trade" mechanisms, seeking to control the level of industrial carbon emissions through a requirement on relevant installations to purchase and surrender allowances. One limb of the JR challenge is based on the level of the related "cap", arguing that this has been set so high as to be out of step with the UK's commitment to emissions reduction under the Paris Agreement.
An accompanying argument is that municipal waste incinerators have been wrongly excluded from the scope of installations encompassed by UK ETS. This is an interesting point, as the exclusion of these installations represents continuity with the EU ETS (though the matter is not without controversy in Europe, where the Commission has consulted on this precise issue).
It remains to be seen how the court treats the legal arguments involved, but this case will give publicity both to the ongoing debate over the policy levers to be used in achieving the UK government's climate and emissions targets and also the wider discussion over the UK's divergence from EU environmental law, post Brexit.
The cap on the volume of emissions permitted under the UK’s emissions trading scheme is too high and the scheme wrongly omits waste incineration, the High Court will hear this week