The UK government’s net zero emissions goal will not be achieved unless urgent steps are taken to improve energy efficiency in homes, the MP warned.
The Environmental Audit Committee said the government was not aware of the scope of work it had to do to eliminate pollution from energy use in UK homes. This accounts for about 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The EAC said in its report that the housing sector “is in danger of disappointing the rest of the economy from decarburization.” “The work is enormous.” To begin the transition, progress must be made in this decade.
The UK is moving towards a legally binding goal of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, but much of the work yet to be done is related to sectors that are more difficult to decarbonize, such as transportation and housing.
For homes, not only must sources of energy and heating be converted to clean fuels, but buildings with poor insulation must be upgraded. This means less energy waste and lower costs for consumers.
The benefits of getting this right are clear. Hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs, low bills, less carbon and a more comfortable home
A recent commission warning came shortly after a group of House of Representatives said in public criticism ahead of the UK-sponsored United Nations Climate Summit in November that the government had “no coordinated plans” to achieve its net zero goal.
The government estimates that by 2035, the ambition to increase energy efficiency for about 19 million of the UK’s 29 million households will cost between £35 and £65 billion.
However, the EAC said that this figure did not include the approximately 8m properties with solid walls, rather than hollow walls, where insulation costs are more expensive. It also did not take into account the cost of installing low-carbon heating such as heat pumps.
Because upgrades can average £18,000 per house even before adding a heat pump, renovating a 19 million home could be “much more expensive,” the EAC said. It encouraged the ministers to review the prospects and explain the percentage the government is expected to fund.
The report also criticized the erroneous launch of the Green Home Grant, a flagship plan to upgrade domestic real estate in the UK, struggling with administrative issues and taking time to fund applicants.
Designed to run for one year, the program “must be checked urgently and expanded into a multi-year plan,” he said. Of the £9.2 billion pledged as part of the government’s 2019 declaration, only £4.1 billion was funded for energy efficiency measures.
© Paul Glendell/Alami
It also stressed the chronic lack of home improvement skills and the need to encourage businesses to invest in people and building materials.
Evidence from the Energy Efficiency Association, which provides training and certification services, showed that there weren’t enough retrofit installers that could “provide a net zero target for one very large local agency across the UK”.
The EAC said the government is urgently announcing its heating and building strategy and “continues to plan for the next decade to give the industry and traders time to increase their proficiency.” It also recommended reducing the VAT on the labor factor of retrofits and energy-saving materials to 5%.
Ministers should also work with the financial sector to develop products such as green mortgages and low-interest loans to help people make their homes more energy-efficient, the commission said.
Jess Ralston, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit activist group, said the government was “talking about a good game against net zero,” but this did not lead to execution. “The benefits of doing this are obvious. Hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs, lower costs, less carbon and a more comfortable home,” she said.
The government responded and defended the record. “We are committed to moving further and faster, and we are investing £9 billion to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings while creating hundreds of thousands of skilled green jobs.”
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