Legal challenge of UK government and raising awareness of incinerator pollution, Georgia Elliott-Smith, Environmental Engineer and UNESCO Special Junior Envoy for Youth & the Environment
Why Fight Incineration?
I’m tired of pollution filling the lungs of my children, suffocating those that live in poorer, more industrial parts of the country (the government allowed a mega-incinerator in Edmonton but rejected one in Cambridge). I’m tired of incinerators claiming to – be environmentally-friendly while they pour out greenhouse gases that are destroying the planet.
Companies like power stations and landfill operators have to pay tax for the burden their pollution creates on society, which means the less they pollute, the less tax they pay. But not incinerators – they do not pay tax as a rubbish disposal route or as a major CO2 emitter. This leaves tax payers to pick up the bill for the increased costs to the NHS of asthma, strokes and heart disease related to air pollution, and for costs related to climate change impacts like flooding.
I have spent the last year alongside tireless campaigners asking MPs, incinerator operators and local councils to stop burning our rubbish, but they’re just not listening. As an environmental engineer, I know that there are cleaner, greener ways to reduce, reuse and recycle materials that make a fairer society for everyone. Enough is enough!
In 2019, the UK had 48 incinerators that poured 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – and didn’t pay a single penny for it. That’s the same as all the emissions from Birmingham and Manchester put together. Worse, a further 100 incinerators are either under construction or seeking planning permission. We’re in the grip of incineration insanity.
The Legal Challenge
Brexit means the UK government is rewriting environmental policies, but incineration is excluded from the new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, a crucial way to reduce CO2. With no incentive or driver to reduce emissions, the pollution will continue to grow out of control.
In 2016, the UK signed the Paris Agreement promising to reduce CO2 emissions as fast as possible. This is a legally-binding commitment but the government is flouting it, allowing massive industrial greenhouse gas emissions to continue. This is why I launched a legal case against the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demanding that action is taken NOW!
Our date in the High Court is confirmed for 14th & 15th April 2021 – we will demand the UK ETS includes incinerators and that the total amount of CO2 permitted by the scheme is drastically reduced.
The legal challenge is being financed by a crowdfunding campaign through CrowdJustice.com. Visit this page, to read the full details of the legal case, access blog posts and make a donation:
My incredible legal team consists of Rowan Smith & Julia Eriksen of Leigh Day, Ben Mitchell of 11KBW, and David Wolfe QC of Matrix Law.