Net zero: ‘No chance’ without energy efficiency policies, say MPs

The UK stands “no chance” of meeting its emissions reduction targets, including its recent commitment to net zero 2050, unless the government takes urgent action to revive its failing energy efficiency policy, a cross-party group of MPs has warned.

In a report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee today, MPs said energy efficiency is the cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions but public investment has shrunk while the rate of installations has “gone backwards”. The report notes that insulation measures installed in houses under government schemes are now around 95% lower than in 2012.

The report also highlights the low levels of per capita investment in residential energy efficiency schemes in England compared with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The committee said the government must “fill the substantial investment gap” on energy efficiency measures and allocate more central funding for energy efficiency.

The report also calls for more robust building regulations, finding that builders are currently able to exploit loopholes that allow them to build homes to outdated standards and sell homes that do not meet advertised energy standards. 

READ MORE: Net-zero by 2050: 15 things you need to know

The report said the government should set out urgently how it intends to meet its target for all homes to reach EPC Band C by 2035, claiming the target was “an empty commitment”.

It also recommends that the government “drastically increases” the £5m allocated to the Green Home Finance Innovation Fund, set up to encourage the private sector to develop finance products to incentivise households to make energy efficiency improvements. The fund was set up after the Green Deal was axed by the government in 2015.  

In response to the committee report, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, called on the  government to “rapidly accelerate the pace of energy efficiency improvements so that 21,000 measures, such as floor, wall and loft insulation, are being delivered each week.

“This should cover all types of property and include significant funding for improvements to council and housing association homes, as endorsed by the committee,” he said.

The CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses in the UK, said “a more ambitious set of policies” was needed.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, said: “A cross-departmental approach, working jointly with business, will improve the efficiency of our homes and buildings and develop the skills and funding needed to make them fit for the future.”

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