Independent committee warns that Clean Growth Strategy will require additional commitments to phasw out most polluting fossil fuel heating to meet emissions targets
The government must do more to “firm up” policies to improve energy efficiency in new buildings and phase out the most polluting fossil fuel heating if it is to realise its Clean Growth Strategy, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said.
The CCC, an independent body that helps inform government on environment policy, said that the Clean Growth Strategy was ambitious, but did not go far enough with a view to curbing carbon emissions and improving the environmental impact of functions such as heating.
CCC chair Lord Deben argued that the broad ambitions contained within the government’s strategy in areas such as reforms of the energy grid were not on their own a sufficient means to shift the UK’s heating needs to lower carbon alternatives.
He said, “As it stands, the strategy does not deliver enough action to meet the UK’s emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s. The government’s policies and proposals will need to be firmed up as a matter of urgency – and supplemented with additional measures – if the UK is to deliver on its legal commitments and secure its position as an international climate change leader.”
The CCC said following the publication of its own report on the strategy that the government should look to supplement existing milestones in the Clean Growth plan with additional targets. It is hoped this will help the Clean Growth Strategy meet the fourth and fifth carbon budget targets that run between 2023-2027 and 2028-2032 respectively. These budgets set limits on the UK’s carbon emissions so that they can, by 2050, be reduced by 80 per cent from levels recorded in 1990.
Particular risks have been raised by the CCC around meeting the emissions restrictions intended for the fourth carbon budget that is set to commence in five years. It findings have called for new domestic initiatives around energy efficiency in UK buildings that are not classed as housing low-income individuals.
The findings also back immediate efforts to ensure current heat networks are more reliant on low carbon sources.
A range of policies including moving the “most polluting” fossil fuel heating in homes and businesses off the gas grid and deploying carbon capture and storage technology at scale nationally by the 2030s have been put by forward as key recommendations from the CCC.
The CCC added, “Starting to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid is a sensible low-regrets strategy, given the higher heating costs and the need to develop supply chains and the heat pump market in order to keep open the option of high electrification of heat to 2050.”
“In practice, this means installing low carbon heating alongside insulation upgrades.”
“Policy gap” concerns
UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) chief executive Julie Hirigoyen welcomed the CCC’s assessment of the Clean Growth Strategy that she argued highlighted a “policy gap” that needed to be addressed to successfully achieve the upcoming carbon budget targets.
She said, “The CCC highlights the importance of buildings in bridging this policy gap, and UKGBC welcomes the focus on measures for our sector to achieve vital emissions reductions. With big housing targets and some of the draughtiest housing stock in Europe, it’s important we take action now to cut our emissions and make new buildings and infrastructure fit for the future.”
“We stand alongside the CCC in calling for robust energy efficiency regulations for rented homes; the introduction of performance-based labelling for commercial buildings; and high standards for new build properties. It’s essential that the recommended action plan for home energy efficiency is published as soon as possible to give us a fighting chance of meeting our carbon budgets.”