New Report says the Government's plans do not meet scale of climate challenge.

The government's own Committee on Climate Change today gave its annual report assessing progress in reducing the UK's emissions over the past year. Needless to say it couldn’t be more damning in respect of progress on emissions from buildings.

The report's headlines find:

“That UK action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is lagging behind what is needed to meet legally-binding emissions targets. Since June 2018, government has delivered only 1 of 25 critical policies needed to get emissions reductions back on track.”

Committee chairman Lord Deben (the former agriculture minister John Gummer), said: "The whole thing is really run by the government like a Dad's Army. We can't go on with this ramshackle system.”

In the foreword Lord Deben and Baroness Brown state:

“The Clean Growth Strategy, the UK’s plan for emissions reduction, provides a solid foundation

for the action needed to meet a net-zero GHG target but policy ambition and implementation

now fall well short of what is required. Last June, we advised that 25 headline policy actions

were needed for the year ahead. Twelve months later, only one has been delivered by

government in full. Ten of the actions have not shown even partial progress. Government

continues to be off track for the fourth and fifth carbon budgets – on their own appraisal – and

the policy gap has widened further this year as an increase in the projection of future emissions

has outweighed the impact of new policies”.

The report highlights progress or lack of in all sectors e.g. transport, industry, power, but Elmhurst has highlighted below concerns expressed specifically for buildings.

Stuart Fairlie Technical & Operations Director at Elmhurst “It is fair to say that the committee’s report will make very uncomfortable reading for government. The report gives great clarity on where the UK has done well on emission reductions such as power, but also shines a light on areas that need a lot more work like transport and buildings. The medium and long term targets have been set, but as Elmhurst has stated many times before we need policies to get there.

"The shredding of energy efficiency polices and standards which occurred in 2012 under the previous Cameron and Osborne government, have never been replaced. The hope now is that after the plethora of consultations that have occurred since the Clean Growth Strategy, those ideas need to start to be turned into real policy and action. If we are serious about decarbonising and making our homes and business more energy efficient. As Lord Deben says we need to get on with it!”

 

Buildings:

All of the key buildings policy gaps identified in our 2018 progress report remain unaddressed or

only partially met. It remains unclear how the government will deliver its target for all houses to

be made EPC band C by 2035. In contrast, Scotland provides a good example of setting

trajectories across the existing building stock. In other areas there has been progress,

but it falls short of what is needed:

 

  • Government published Clean Growth – Transforming Heating in December 2018, committing

BEIS to the publication of a Heat Roadmap in summer 2020 and leading to a planned £16.5m

demonstration project heat the electrification of heat, expected to launch in 2019. In the

Spring Statement, the government committed to increasing the proportion of green gas in

the grid. Further detail is needed on the support framework, including the types of gas (e.g.

biomethane, hydrogen) to be included. Work is planned or underway on market framework

arrangements for heat networks, including regulatory consumer protections, enabling

investment and supporting low-carbon networks. However, plans for phasing out fossil fuel

heating in properties off the gas grid and support for heat pumps from 2021 remain unclear.

 

  • How the government’s target for all houses to be made EPC band C by 2035 will be delivered

remains largely unclear. BEIS are undertaking a number of supply-chain demonstrators

focused on ‘able-to-pay’ households (i.e. close to two-thirds of all homes below EPC band

  1. C) along with a £9.4m Whole House Retrofit Competition.

 

  • Amendments to the domestic private rented sector (PRS) regulations introduced a £3,500

cap on costs to landlords for energy efficiency improvements. While a higher cap than

originally proposed, it still materially limits the scope and impact of the policy, with only 48%

of F- and G-rated properties in scope expected to reach Band E. This limits costs for landlords

at the expense of higher running costs for renters - including many fuel poor households. A trajectory for future tightening (as in Scotland) has yet to be set.

 

  • The government plans to review Building Regulations alongside reviewing a method for

reducing overheating risk. In the Spring Statement a strong commitment was made to

“introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed

with low-carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency”. Policy is needed and

must ensure that regulations are set now, which require all homes to meet our

recommended standards (including on climate adaptation). All new homes built from 2025

at the latest should be ultra-energy efficient and should not be connected to the gas grid,

instead relying on low-carbon heating.

 

  • Whilst good headway has been made on fire safety, there has been limited progress to

suggest the lessons learned from the Hackitt Review will be used to develop stronger

compliance and enforcement procedures that extend beyond fire safety, to make material

improvements to enforcement of building regulations across the stock.

 

  • In March 2019, government set out some policies (e.g. Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy

Efficiency (BASEE) competition) and intentions to consult. A call for evidence is looking at

options to assist SMEs in improving energy efficiency. However, other areas have not

progressed - notably the trajectory for tightening the non-domestic PRS regulations is yet to

be consulted on.

 


For a copy of the full report click here 

For further articles click here


Article published: 10th July 

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