What is Green GB week?

Following the release of the latest IPCC summary last week, UK Climate Minister, Claire Perry, has declared this week as ‘Green GB week’. This week will be used to raise awareness of the very real climate challenges we are facing, and aims to raise the ever pressing debate about how climate change can be tackled while also growing the economy.

The UK’s current target is a reduction of 80% of emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels. But the CCC (Committee for Climate Change) have recognised and highlighted the UK will drift further from this target unless new policies are introduced, and actually seen through, irrespective of political leadership.

It is already understood that greater cuts are needed from transport, waste, farming and meat consumption. However, Elmhurst are encouraged to see that cuts are now being pushed through industry and through the way our building stock is heated.

The UK has now announced tentative steps towards a ‘greener future’ and ultimately a zero–carbon economy. This drive has been spurred by the UN report indicating absolute clarity that CO2 emissions must be completely halted to avoid catastrophic climate disruption.

Elmhurst recognises the drive shown by the UK government, and would like to be optimistic of revised targets and ambitions but also questions the realistic feasibility of achieving them, as the supporting mechanisms are still being scrapped. Only last week, the government reduced subsidies for electric cars, and in recent times, have also scrapped solar subsidies for using renewable solar energy on buildings, and cancelled funding for zero carbon homes.

Elmhurst has continually advised government that policies are great, and show commitment to improvement but these must be supplemented by incentives that push people and businesses to change, for example subsidies and pay as you save schemes. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES regulations) are a prime example of this, where landlords are only required to improve their properties if there is no cost to themselves. In theory, this is a very fair approach but as there are very few means of landlords accessing alternative funding, the efficiency of privately rented houses will not improve at the intended rate.

Claire Perry (Climate Minister), advised that the constant questions are ‘What are the costs? Who will bear the costs? What does government need to do? Where does the private sector come in? What technologies are needed?

At Elmhurst, focusing on the built environment, our view remains unchanged. When improving energy efficiency to lower carbon emissions, there will inevitably be initial capital cost outlay but the costs should, if advised correctly, be repaid through savings in energy bills and maintenance. Energy Assessors provide a fantastic source of independent advice that will be individual and accurate to each building. For businesses, ESOS allows staff to become consciously aware of their energy use and how this can be effectively measured and managed. We also reiterate that government should lead by example and ensure innovation is proven before being rolled out to the wider industry.

We believe the release of the recent climate reports, and the decision to implement a ‘Green GB week’ presents big opportunities for raising awareness of how our built environment affects the climate and how it can contribute to the UK’s zero – carbon economy.

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Article Published: 16th October 2018

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