Select Committee demands upgrade to energy efficiency

A Select Committee report, 21st Report - Energy efficiency: building towards net-zero warns that a major upgrade of the energy performance of the UK’s entire building stock will be a needed pillar of any credible strategy to reach net zero emissions.

To meet the 2050 target of the Climate Change Act 2008, the Government set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032 that restrict the amount of greenhouse gas the UK can legally emit in a five-year period.

A major issue is that the UK is lacking in energy efficiency, and if the amount of energy used is not reduced, then it is unlikely that the targets can be met. Approximately 19 per cent of the UK’s total emissions come from heating our buildings: homes comprise 77 per cent; commercial buildings 14 per cent; and public buildings 10 per cent
Currently, the UK is on track to deliver the third budget (2018 to 2022) but is set to miss the fourth (2023 to 2027) by 5.6 per cent and fifth (2028 to 2032) by 9.6 per cent. This is particularly concerning given that these were both set on the path to the 80 per cent target and are likely to be “too loose” to meet the net-zero target.

The Select Committee is stark, saying that ‘energy efficiency needs to be addressed now if the UK is to have any chance of meeting its fourth and fifth carbon budgets, let alone net zero carbon emissions by 2050’ and notes that it is ‘unacceptable that 18 months after publishing the Clean Growth Strategy the Government is yet to define the condition of “where practical, cost-effective and affordable” that it pinned to the EPC Band C targets’.

Moreover, the report points to the difference in the devolved regions, where public money is invested per capita is much greater than in England. It states: ‘We do not see how a task of this enormity can be accomplished without energy efficiency being designated as an infrastructure priority. The Scottish Government recognised this in 2015 and is already delivering energy efficiency improvements through a long-term and properly funded infrastructure programme.’

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