The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has today warned the government that its net zero target is likely to hit a roadblock unless urgent action is taken to reverse ‘woefully inadequate’ commitments to invest in efficiency.
The EAC calls for renewed action within this decade and notes that funding allocated for the Green Homes Grant has not been spent, with only £125 million worth of vouchers of the £1.5 billion budget having been issued.
The body suggests further schemes must be rolled out and consumer advice must be given to make the benefits of retrofits clearer – the advantages include better warming capability, lower energy use and cheaper bills.
The EAC said the current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) system is outdated and needs to be replaced with what it calls Building Renovation Passports.
Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “Making 19 million homes ready for net zero Britain by 2050 is an enormous challenge that the government appears to have not yet grasped.
“Government investment to improve energy efficiency has been woefully inadequate. The £9 billion that the government pledged at the election was welcome, but 16 months on, there appears to be no plan nor meaningful delivery.
“Realism needs to be injected into the Government. A much better understanding of cost, pace, scale and feasibility of skills development is desperately needed for net zero Britain.”
Responding to the EAC’s report on energy efficiency, Energy UK Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck said: “As this report underlines, the UK’s legal net zero target is not deliverable if we fail to make our buildings energy efficient.
“Retrofitting millions of properties is a massive challenge, but the benefits are enormous too. We hope the government will accept the committee’s recommendations and give energy efficiency the effort and investment it deserves in an ambitious heat and buildings Strategy.”
A BEIS spokesperson said: “The UK has a strong track record in improving the energy performance of its homes, with 40% now above Energy Performance (EPC) Band C, up from just 9% in 2008.
“However, we are committed to going further and faster and are investing £9 billion in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, while creating hundreds of thousands of skilled green jobs.
“This includes funding for the first hydrogen-powered houses and allocating more than £500 million this year alone to improve the energy efficiency of 50,000 households in social and local authority housing across the UK, as we work to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050.”