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Blog Post 13 July 2022

Influencing policy to drive positive outcomes

Our vital work to help shape energy policy at the highest levels delivers real world benefits to homes, businesses and communities, both in the UK and internationally.

Our policy work makes a real impact. The recent zero VAT rating for energy efficient products is something which, together with coalition partners, Energy Saving Trust has long campaigned for. The change makes the prospect of retrofitting your home or installing low carbon heating that much more attractive. It’s welcome news.

In Northern Ireland, the climate bill we supported drew remarkable cross-party support at Stormont and has established a legal targets for reducing emissions. There is an energy strategy in place too, where we continue to make the case for going further on retrofit and heat pumps. Energy Saving Trust’s head of policy Stew Horne says: “It’s vital to get targets in place. Then everyone has got something to aim for which can also be strengthened over time. Otherwise, it’s much harder to get traction towards meeting our climate goals.”

In Wales, our presence within a number of active coalitions is influencing the conversation around retrofit, low carbon heat and importantly fuel poverty and how to mitigate it. In Scotland, where the policy agenda is relatively advanced, Energy Saving Trust is secretariat for the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SPREE), an ambitious forum that demonstrates our convening ability.

Our policy approach is one of coalition and consensus. Together with 27 charities and other bodies, we wrote to the UK government in order to shift the dial on the energy price crisis, lobbying for immediate help with costs and long term action to reduce demand in homes, divest from fossil fuels, and increase the supply of renewable energy. Stark warnings in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report on the impacts of accelerated climate change add context and urgency to our advocacy work.

Underpinning our authority at all times is our track record of expert advice. A January report on our Scottish services shows the vital link between advice and positive outcomes. Stew says: “Advice is a crucial bit of infrastructure that makes change happen faster. It gives consumers the confidence to take action. It’s also a highly cost-effective way to meet targets and achieve these positive outcomes.”

Working globally for a just transition to clean energy

International work at a policy level over the past year has focused on engaging with the European Commission in the area of the EU’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, and on our energy access programme, showcased at COP26, which helps developing countries adopt a low carbon pathway.

In its COP26 presidency role, the UK Government asked Energy Saving Trust to establish a small secretariat in Brussels to help build the profile of the UN’s Race to Zero initiative in Europe. In an acknowledgement that governments are unlikely to achieve the Paris goals on their own, Race to Zero engages with businesses in order to encourage parallel commitments.

As secretariat of a steering committee drawn from across government departments, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industry, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, we delivered a suite of online events for businesses, and a series of high-profile Brussels embassy lunches with the aim of co-creating solutions for achieving 2050 targets.

At COP26 our Low Energy Inclusive Appliances (LEIA) programme was integral to a raft of Energy Saving Trust events linking energy access with resilience. Partnership and communications manager Sarah Hambly says: “We set out to show how access to affordable, energy efficient appliances can help accelerate a just and inclusive clean energy transition and help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.”

As co-secretariat of Efficiency for Access, Energy Saving Trust took a lead role at the COP26 Resilience Hub, home to the UN’s Race to Resilience campaign which aims to bolster the climate resilience of 1m people globally and recognises the importance of adaptation alongside mitigation.

Efficiency for access was recognised as a key initiative for international collaboration to deliver the Glasgow Breakthrough on Power, part of a series of clean energy commitments made by world leaders at COP26. The breakthrough vision, which aligns closely with our own in areas like off-grid and access, will be taken forward to 2025 by the Energy Transition Council.

Head of international Emilie Carmichael says: “As Efficiency for Access co-secretariat we’re driving an agenda on behalf of multiple partners. Only by collaborating can we hope to meet the challenges ahead.”

With COP27 scheduled for Africa, the opportunity exists to focus on helping low and middle income countries adopt a clean and just development pathway. Again, partnership will be key. Emilie says: “Energy Saving Trust has always built bridges between stakeholders. It’s one of our USPs.”

Last updated: 13 July 2022