In October 2019, the Government released its response to the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) Progress Report to Parliament – Reducing UK Emissions, published in May 2019. The report responds to the CCC’s specific recommendations across the five key sectors (Power, Buildings, Industry, Transport and Natural Resources) as well as providing an update on action to reduce emissions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The response set out some initial achievements made by the Government, including the release of the 25 Year Environmental Plan, published in January 2018, the release of the Green Finance Strategy in July 2019 and the launch of the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, published in July 2018. Despite these achievements, the Government agrees with the CCC’s recommendation that further, faster action is required in order for the UK to meet its existing carbon budget as well as the delivery of net zero emissions by 2050.
The Government outlines progress that has been made towards achieving net zero within the built environment sector. The key achievements made are:
- The introduction of a Future Homes Standard will see new build homes future-proofed with low carbon heating and the highest energy efficiency standards by 2025.
- The launch of the Green Home Finance Innovation Fund to engage the financial sector in delivering energy performance improvements.
- The introduction of new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting requirements to improve simplicity and transparency of reporting energy use and emissions.
- The implementation of the Renewable Heat Incentive which is expected to save approximately 123 MtCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of installations supported by the scheme.
The Government’s response also looks ahead as it acknowledges that further advances are needed to prepare for the large-scale decarbonisation of heating. These future strategies are in alignment with recommendations by the CCC. Key points from this include:
- The potential development of a policy package to support the phasing out of fossil fuel heating in buildings off the gas grid, with further consultation in early 2020.
- The publication of a ‘heat policy roadmap’ in the summer of 2020 to outline the ambition and action for decarbonising heat by 2050.
- The production of a summary of responses and an action plan by the Government to enhance and strengthen the current EPC Framework following the Call for Evidence for EPC’s in Buildings, with as many private rented homes as possible being upgraded to EPC Band C by 2030 (where practicable, cost-effective and affordable). The diagram below demonstrates that private rented homes are not reported to be performing as efficiently at social rented homes, thus action needs to be taken.
- The existing Fuel Poverty Strategy is set to be updated, following consultation on its update. This revealed the proposition of a ‘sustainability principle’ which would ensure that policies are designed to benefit fuel poor households in the long-term whilst seeking to ensure action is taken for other government priorities, including the net zero by 2050 commitment.
- Following consultation on the non-domestic PRS Regulations, the Government has a preferred trajectory that all non-domestic privately rented buildings achieve a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC Band B by 2030.
- The intention by the Government to continue consultation next year on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for non-domestic buildings in the PRS.
- The commitment to taking action towards upskilling our workforce as this is critical in transforming the energy efficiency of building stock and widespread decarbonisation.
The Government’s report generally received support from various stakeholders and an acknowledgement that significant work is being done to achieve the net zero goal. However, despite the various commitments outlined within their response, some criticism has certainly arisen.
The Chief Executive of the CCC made a statement which included his view that the Government’s approach is too focused on research and guidance, rather than taking immediate action on preparing towards climate change and reaching net zero.
Similarly to the CCC’s response, Energy UK state that further work must be done faster and is required immediately as well as criticism towards the lack of energy efficiency measures for UK homes in comparison to measures for businesses.
Furthermore, comments made by Greenpeace include the need for all petrol and diesel cars to be phased out by 2030 as opposed to the Government’s plans in the report of ending emissions across all transport modes by 2050.
Overall, despite the Government making great progress and further commitments towards reaching net zero, in line with the CCC’s recommendations, it would appear that the Government must move faster and go further to minimise carbon emissions and subsequently, reach the net zero target by 2050.
Greengage are in support of the response made by the Government and the commitments that they outline towards minimising carbon emissions and addressing the impacts of climate change. However, we agree with the criticism from other stakeholders and too believe that measures need to be implemented now and move faster across all sectors and services in achieving net zero.
For our clients, we can expect that they will have to align with more stringent policy as well as stricter mandatory requirements, particularly regarding energy use and efficiency, for their future developments. Environmental policy is continually changing, with higher standards being implemented that developments must meet; the Government’s response to the CCC is an evident demonstration of this.
Keeping on-top of the UK’s policy agenda, specifically environmental policy, will be key in the upcoming months and for our clients in ensuring that future developments both meet and exceed policy requirements in order to minimise impacts on climate change to the greatest extent.