Climate committee calls for action on building efficiency

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned that urgent action is necessary to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change in the UK.

The Committee, which advises the Government on climate matters, pointed out that many policies designed to reduce emissions are due to expire in the next few years, including measures to encourage energy efficiency. It warned that this could hamper investment and mean that the UK fails to meet its target to reduce emissions under the Climate Change Act.

Among the recommendations in its latest progress report, the Committee urged the Government to develop plans and policies that deliver low-carbon heat and energy efficiency, whilst also addressing the increasing risks of heat stress and flooding.

Specifically, the Committee called on the Government to implement the zero carbon homes standard without further weakening. It also recommended the introduction of a standard to prevent new homes overheating, and promote passive cooling in existing buildings.

The Committee also said that the Government should draw up an action plan to address the significant shortfall in low-carbon heat, ensuring a better integration with energy efficiency and fuel poverty, and commit to the Renewable Heat Incentive to 2020.

Commenting on the report, Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: The Government has rightly identified the need to ensure that emissions are reduced as cost-effectively as possible. No sector provides a better opportunity to do this than buildings, in which energy efficiency can stimulate economic activity, lower bills and strengthen our energy security.

Yet the Committee has issued a clear warning — progress on improving our buildings is currently falling short. The Government must follow its advice and agree an action plan for energy efficiency which results in homes that are cheaper to heat and that are shielded from the worst effects of climate change.

“Investors have a huge appetite to fund energy efficiency projects but there are more complicated hurdles to get to financial close than, for example, a renewable energy project. This is because investors can’t see a clear delineation between the capital going in and the revenues coming out. These deals have worked in the public sector such as the NHS in the UK because there is more certainty that the building occupiers will still be there in 20-30 years.” (Smart Cities in Europe: Enabling innovation)

Matthew Germain, Associate Director

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