The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has today published a report on ‘Clean Growth: Technologies for meeting the UK’s emissions reduction targets’. The Committee brings together MPs from all the leading parties and is chaired by Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Norman Lamb.
The report makes several positive recommendations that Energy Saving Trust recommends the Government consider.
Energy Saving Trust recognises and agrees with the report’s views on policies for energy and carbon saving technologies in households. The Committee also highlights that the Government needs to do more to support householders in England.
With the UK’s recent adoption of a 2050 net zero carbon target, and much greater public concern, the Committee’s report is an important contribution from Parliament, keeping a close eye on the Government’s progress to develop the low carbon technology framework we need. The UK can and should be a leader in this area globally, with an energy system that is energy efficient, decentralised and running on clean energy.
Lack of information
The report points out that despite ever growing public concern about climate change, awareness of what to do to cut carbon emissions lags behind apparent concern: what technologies can members of the public choose to best cut energy waste and carbon emissions?
The Committee cites a Government survey that found that 48% of the public had “never heard” of renewable heating systems. The Committee’s report recommends that ‘the Government should publish an easily accessible central guide explaining what measures households can take to support decarbonisation and re-introduce a bespoke telephone and visiting advice service.’
Greater support needed in England
It’s important to note the difference between England and Scotland in this arena. In England, the provision of public advice on home energy and carbon saving is currently very limited. The Scottish Government funds Home Energy Scotland, a comprehensive national advice and support service.
In 2018, this service, which Energy Saving Trust delivers on behalf of Scottish Government, advised nearly 90,000 people – 85% of whom went on to take some form of action. The majority of people access Home Energy Scotland over the telephone. However, for householders who are considering installing more advanced low carbon measures in their home, such as heat pumps, expert Home Energy Scotland advisors are trained to visit properties and provide bespoke advice, including talking through different technologies and options available that are appropriate for the buildings and residents. Presently, there is no service similar to this offered in England.
Mismatch of ambitions and delivery
The report also highlights the wider mismatch between Government ambitions and delivery on energy and carbon saving in homes. At Energy Saving Trust, we support the Government’s plans laid out in the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy to bring nearly all homes to an energy performance certificate (EPC) standard of C by 2035 (around 70% of homes don’t meet this target, currently).
According to the Science and Technology Committee, this target equates to improving ‘around 20,000 English homes (just under 40 per English constituency) per week until 2035.’ However, current delivery of key energy saving measures through Government programmes – around 2,400 insulation installations per week – is far lower than this target.
Support for homeowners
Most of the investment for new energy technologies in our homes will need to come from individual homeowners. The Science and Technology Committee recommends the introduction of several new incentives and solutions for householders to improve homes and cut carbon emissions.
- generous loans at attractive rates
- new instant access savings accounts (ISAs)
- stamp duty rebates
- a requirement to improve energy efficiency when householders undertake wider building projects
- energy efficiency as a criterion in all mortgage products.
Key role for local authorities
In addition to a clear policy framework and adequate financing, the Science and Technology Committee advocates a key role for both local authorities and consumer advice. With 115 councils in the UK having declared a ‘climate emergency’, Energy Saving Trust believes that local authorities have a vital role to play in the UK’s decarbonisation.
We therefore support the recommendation for a new statutory duty for Councils to develop emission plans and monitor progress, and for the Government to provide centralised support to enable this to happen.