Report warns UK isn’t doing enough to achieve net zero targets
The recently released 2022 progress report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has highlighted that the government’s current policy and programmes will not ensure delivery of the UK’s net zero by 2050 target.
Last year, The CCC welcomed the government’s ambitious climate targets and launch of a new Net Zero Strategy document. However, this recent progress report is nothing short of scathing when it comes to reviewing the government’s delivery of its commitments. Without new incentives or measures to shift behaviour the government will struggle to deliver on planned emissions reductions.
Who are the CCC?
The Climate Change Committee, or CCC for short, is an independent, statutory body who advises the UK and devolved governments, on emission targets and the progress being made to reduce our impact on climate change.
Buildings still poor performing
Buildings are the UK’s second largest source of emissions, however, rates of improvement in energy efficiency continue to be well below the necessary levels, with next to no change in the last decade.
Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, released last year, outlined how buildings could be decarbonised. Yet much of the action provided within the strategy has not been followed up with a complete plan for delivery.
Slow take up of low-carbon heat
Oil or gas boilers remain the main fuel sources used to produce heat and hot water in buildings. More is action is needed, and quickly, in order to change this to low-carbon sources.
The government established a target to have at least 600,000 heat pumps installed each year by 2028. Earlier this year a new Boiler Upgrade Scheme was released which aimed to incentivise the take up of this low carbon technology, by covering some of the total installation cost for building owners. Despite the uptick in heat pump installations, research shows that the number of installations is still far from the government’s target (54,000 installations in 2021).
The CCC believes that more needs to be done in order to reduce the cost of heat pumps (both to run and install), and encourage adoption of this technology across the UK.
Energy Efficiency of homes- a neglected policy area
All governments have set Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) targets, which cover some or all of their housing stock. Yet it is evident that the policy, which enforces these targets, are missing.
The CCC recommends that the government needs to address the policy gap for energy efficiency in owner-occupied homes and commercial buildings. It should bring forward policies, which create incentives or enforceable requirements for home and building owners to act.
For homes, this could include a policy requiring EPC C from 2028 at the point of sale and/or a mandatory minimum requirement for mortgage lenders.
It should also set clear energy efficiency standards for social homes and deliver the legislation for energy efficiency improvements in the private rented sector as proposed.
More public engagement and energy advice is required
Against the backdrop of rising fuel costs, the CCC recommends that urgent action is needed to help the public understand the causes of high-energy prices, and the steps to mitigate them.
In addition to a comprehensive online platform, which suggests how building owners can reduce their energy demand, The CCC also believes that the government should be linking home owners to local energy assessors who have the appropriate knowledge to deliver relevant advice to home owners.
A widespread publicity campaign, should accompany action in this area to ensure awareness of this energy advice service reaches millions of households across the UK each year.
Elmhurst’s Managing Director, Stuart Fairlie, supports the points raised within the CCC’s progress report, and echoes their call for the government to act immediately:
“We are indeed at a pivotal point in the UK’s journey to Net Zero. We have of course seen some action from government (the introduction of interim building regulations, and the renewed focus on low carbon technologies), but it is simply not enough, and more action is required.
What we have at the moment are a list of promises, with no tangible action/policy attached to them. Elmhurst has responded to numerous government consultations and white papers, which stipulate the government’s plans and potential ‘road map’ for the energy efficiency in building. Yet, we continue to wait on the outcome of consultations and the regulations, which will initiate action within the industry.
We hope that the government heed the words of the CCC and act quickly to get the ball rolling in this sector. If no action is taken soon, then we fear that the UK will not meet its commitment to net zero”.
Full Progress Report: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/2022-progress-report-to-parliament/