Low carbon buildings sector urges government to publish climate action plan

28th March 2017

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Tracey Birch

Thirty construction, heating and energy efficiency firms have written to the business and energy secretary to publish the government's long-awaited clean growth plan.

The plan would outline the government’s next steps towards meeting the carbon budgets. It was previously known as the emissions reduction plan and was due to be published by the end of 2016. Energy minister Jesse Norman last week refused to be drawn on when the plan might be published, telling a parliamentary committee only that it would be ‘in due course’.

More than 40% of UK energy is used to heat buildings, according to the Committee on Climate Change. However, businesses and trade bodies, including Arup, Kingfisher, Association for Decentralised Energy, Association for the Conservation of Energy, Kingspan Insulation and the UK Green Building Council, believe policy to reduce emissions from buildings is among the weakest areas of government measures to tackle climate change.

In a letter to Greg Clarke, they urge the government to use the plan to provide clarity for businesses and consumers and to seize the economic and social opportunities.

A national programme to bring every UK home to an energy performance rating of ‘C’ or above would generate 100,000 new jobs in the construction and service industries, they said. It could also boost economic productivity, eradicate fuel poverty and reduce the cost to the NHS of treating illnesses that result from cold homes.

Specifically, the letter calls for:

  • a long-term target for all homes to have an energy performance rating of C or above by 2035;
  • the introduction of minimum standards on efficiency for existing homes, enforced at the point of sale and backed up by grants and zero interest loans;
  • all new buildings to be ‘nearly zero energy’ by 2020, as specified under the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive;
  • a clear strategy and policy to accelerate the roll out of low carbon heating, particularly electric heat pumps, in buildings not on the gas grid;
  • support for the growth of district heat networks by building on the heat network investment project through the 2020s, and providing a long-term investment framework to facilitate lower cost capital; and
  • a local authority-led approach to decarbonise heating.

The letter was coordinated by campaign group WWF. Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate change, said: ‘The low carbon economy represents a huge opportunity for UK businesses, so it’s no wonder that they’re desperately looking for longer term clarity that will enable them to invest in the technologies that we know can help to tackle climate change.’


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