5 Essex Court

News

6 Aug 21 Back to Listing

John Goss and Aaron Moss successfully resist Environmental Information Regulations 2004 appeal by Committee for Climate Change about the cost of ‘Net Zero’

In Committee for Climate Change v Information Commissioner & Montford (3 August 2021), the First-Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) resoundingly rejected the Committee for Climate Change’s appeal against the decision of the Information Commissioner to order it to provide information about the calculations underlying its Net Zero Report on how to reach ‘net zero’ for carbon emissions. Mr Montford had sought the information in order to understand the CCC’s conclusion that the cost of Net Zero would be approximately 1-2% of UK GDP. The CCC had refused to provide it, asserting that it was contained in spreadsheets which were still in unfinished form, that those spreadsheets both contained and were internal communications, and that the request was manifestly unreasonable because of the amount of work it would entail. They claimed that the public interest in maintaining those exceptions to the EIR regime outweighed the public interest in disclosure.

After a two-day hearing, the FTT accepted Mr Montford’s case that the spreadsheets were not unfinished and that the request was not manifestly unreasonable. They held that the spreadsheets were internal communications, but that the public interest in disclosure outweighed the public interest in maintaining the exception. The Information Commissioner had initially opposed the appeal, but subsequently suggested that an order for disclosure would be disproportionate and should be refused as a matter of discretion: the FTT rejected this, accepting Mr Montford’s submission that in a situation where the amount of work required was a result of the CCC’s own failings, the ‘extremely high public interest in disclosure’ meant that it would not be disproportionate to order it.

The decision is available on BAILII.

Aaron Moss provided initial advice and written submissions for Mr Montford; John Goss represented him on the appeal. Both Aaron and John are information law specialists, who act for individuals, companies and public bodies across a range of information law matters, including the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the EIR, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR. As in this case, they both accept instructions on a direct access basis where appropriate.