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New PM must stick to key EU climate change targets for 2020

Irrespective of Brexit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet must commit to critical EU targets for the year 2020 on cutting carbon emissions and transforming the UK’s energy infrastructure.

This is the call made today (Friday) by 30 environmental and energy-related organisations¹ in a letter² to Greg Clark,  the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Signatories include leading business associations covering the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, two of the UK’s biggest green NGOs and Energy UK, the body representing the  major energy suppliers.

Their letter argues that EU laws and regulations on energy and buildings have played a leading role in enabling the UK to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and to provide global leadership on climate change.³

Three EU targets for the year 2020 have paved the way for future emission reductions. The signatories say the UK Government should now declare that it is sticking to these, as it prepares to commence exit negotiations from the union, to give badly-needed confidence to businesses and investors.

The three targets are:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources (under the Renewables Energy Directive)
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less (the Energy Efficiency Directive)
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 (by the end of 2018 for public buildings) (The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive)

The letter says that a combination of EU and UK laws, regulations and policies have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK on the path towards a low carbon future.

“Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.”

Dr Joanne Wade, CEO of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, says: “The Brexit vote has caused industry uncertainty. Government must move quickly to confirm it will continue on a clear path to meeting key energy targets.”

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive of sustainability charity Bioregional, says: “Cutting emissions is the pathway to secure, affordable energy for the UK in the long term as well as tackling climate change. We need a firm commitment to these long-agreed targets for 2020.”

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “For the sake of jobs and investor confidence the Government cannot afford to row back on the EU 2020 renewables targets.”

Contacts:

  • Nicholas Schoon, Policy and Communications Manager, Bioregional, 07732 381728
  • Jenny Holland, Campaigns Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy, 0207 359 8000, 07875 629781, jenny@ukace.org

[1] SIGNATORIES

  • Ashden
  • Association for the Conservation of Energy
  • Bioregional
  • British Blind and Shutter Association
  • British Pump Manufacturers Association
  • British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association
  • Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • E3G
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • Energy Systems Trade Association
  • Energy UK
  • Existing Homes Alliance Scotland
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Glass and Glazing Federation
  • Greenpeace
  • Insulated Render and Cladding Association
  • Lighting Industry Association
  • Mineral Wool Manufacturers Association
  • National Energy Foundation
  • National Insulation Association
  • Oil Firing Technical Association
  • Property and Energy Professionals Association
  • Regen SW
  • Renewable Energy Association
  • Solar Trade Association
  • Sustainable Energy Association
  • Thermal Insulation Consortium
  • Town & Country Planning Association

[2]  TEXT OF LETTER

Dear Mr Clark,

We would like to warmly congratulate you on your appointment as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and wish you well in this important new post.

We welcome the 29 June statement of Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that the UK government would not step back from international leadership in acting on climate change.

We agree that both the UK and the EU have been world leaders in addressing the enormous challenge posed by climate change. UK leadership has stemmed from the combination of EU and UK laws,  regulations and policies. Together these have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK economy and infrastructure on the path towards a low carbon future.

Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.

In particular, we call upon the Government to commit to hitting 2020 targets under the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 (by the end of 2018 for public buildings)

These targets make a key contribution towards implementing the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act 2008 – pioneering legislation which requires ever-lower UK emissions in successive five-year carbon budgets. The policies and regulations required to meet these budgets have all been set in the context of EU law and policies on energy and climate.

Yours sincerely,

[3]  Between 1990 and 2014, the latest year for which final figures are available, UK territorial emissions of greenhouse gases fell by 35%. Between 2000 and 2014 they fell by 28%.

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PRS

Please ask Ballot MPs to adopt Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill

In today’s House of Commons Private Members’ Ballot, some fortunate MPs got the chance to introduce a Bill of their own in Parliament.  ACE – along with, among others, the Energy Saving Trust and the London Association of Local Energy Officers – is promoting the Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill, and we’d be grateful for your help in getting an MP to take it up!  The Bill would sweep away outdated provisions in property leases to enable freeholders and leaseholders alike to make their homes warmer, healthier and more comfortable.  Here is a full briefing about the Bill.  And here is a list of the successful MPs for you to use.  Thank you!

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commercial sector,ESOS,policy design

Peter Mallaburn (4)

Non-domestic energy efficiency – policy design principles

Dr Peter Mallaburn is Director of Policy and Governance at the Energy Institute, University College London, and Editor of Climate Policy Journal. He has represented the UK on air pollution, climate modelling and energy policy in the EU, OECD and the IEA and worked on international climate negotiations. Peter helped write the UK’s first Climate Change Programme, set up the Carbon Trust, was Salix Finance’s first CEO, and set up his own consultancy, Policy to Practice, in 2008.

The government is currently reviewing its non-domestic energy efficiency policies as well as its wider policy portfolio as part of the Carbon Plan. DECC’s 2016 Departmental Plan provides some context:

Although the energy intensity of the UK economy has fallen by 24% since 2004, there remains significant untapped potential for energy saving in the business sector. Realising this potential will improve businesses’ productivity and will also support growth. But the business energy tax and policy framework is complex and businesses tell us it does not provide the incentive it could to reduce energy consumption. 

This article contributes to this process by outlining our state of knowledge on energy efficiency and identifies some key policy principles around which a new energy efficiency programme could develop. It is drawn both from the literature and from direct policy experience in the UK and overseas.

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London, Battersea at night

Can the next Mayor make London a world-leading city for energy efficiency?

There are around 775,000 homes in London with a poor energy efficiency rating. We need investment in these homes to transform them into comfortable, healthy dwellings that are a pleasure to live in, contribute to managing our carbon emissions, and are resilient to future energy price rises. There can be a tendency to see London’s homes as too hard or expensive to treat, but let’s stop and think about that for a minute. Yes, there are around 800,000 homes that are in need of solid wall insulation, but there are also over 750,000 that could benefit from cavity wall insulation and over 500,000 that could use improved levels of loft insulation. And having a solid wall home doesn’t mean you can’t reach a reasonable level of energy efficiency. I’ve seen Energy Performance Certificates for London semis giving them C ratings or above, and there are 40 homes in London in the SuperHomes database.

It’s harder to find comprehensive statistics on the state of the non-domestic stock, but 70% of Display Energy Certificates and 66% of Non-Domestic Energy Performance Certificated lodged across London have a rating of D or below.

Domestic EPCs rated E, F or G

Domestic EPCs rated E, F or G

Display Energy Certificates rated E, F or G

Display Energy Certificates rated E, F or G

So, can the next Mayor build on what Boris has started, through RE:NEW and RE:FIT?  The front-runners certainly seem to think so, judging from their manifestos. Zac Goldsmith wants ‘London’s homes to be as energy efficient as possible’ and wants to trial low interest loans, stamp duty rebates and council tax rebates, as well as applying the Dutch Energiesprong model to retrofit London’s tower blocks. He has also pledged to include minimum energy efficiency standards in the London Rental Standard and to back the London Plan’s commitment to Zero Carbon Homes. Sadiq Khan plans to establish Energy for Londoners – ‘a not-for-profit company providing a comprehensive range of energy services to help Londoners generate more low-carbon energy and increase their energy efficiency’. He also refers to energy efficiency standards for new developments and commits to ‘make sure City Hall and all other GLA buildings maintain the highest environmental standards on heating, lighting and waste.’

All interesting ideas, with potential, but they are only a start. We look forward to working with the next Mayor to help make sure that not only do their current ideas achieve their potential, but also that the level of ambition is raised and London becomes a world leader in its low energy building stock. As a start, we have called for the next Mayor to introduce a London-wide minimum efficiency standard for rented homes of EPC Band C by 2025. The opportunity for improvement outlined at the beginning of this blog translates to £4.7bn investment in London’s built infrastructure, would directly support the full-time employment of 2,800 Londoners, along with a further 13,000 jobs up and down the supply chains, each year from now to 2030; not to mention the increased health and wellbeing that comes from living and working in buildings with high energy performance. An opportunity like this must not be missed.

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parliament_logo

Our response to Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into Household Energy Efficiency Schemes

In 2013, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched two complementary schemes—the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO)—to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock. ECO obligates energy suppliers to install efficiency measures, such as loft or wall insulation, with the cost passed on to energy bill payers.

Through the Green Deal, homeowners funded installations by taking out loans, which they repaid through their energy bills. The Department of Energy and Climate Change made the decision in July 2015 to not invest further public funds in Green Deal loans.

The National Audit Office (NAO) examined what the schemes have achieved, and at what cost, the design and implementation of the schemes and whether DECC is learning lessons to feed into future energy efficiency schemes. The Public Accounts Committee have followed this up with an inquiry, to which we have provided a concise response.

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data,Energy Company Obligation,Green Deal

Liz Warren SE2

DECC’s Household Energy Efficiency Statistics: the good, the bad and the whaa…?

Liz Warren is a founder and director of SE2, a small consultancy helping individuals, communities and organisations build their capacity to respond to climate change. You can find out more about their work at www.se-2.co.uk.

DECC recently published statistics on the take-up of energy efficiency measures by households during 2015.  In this blog post, we unpick some of the data, exploring the good, the bad and the frankly baffling within the rich data set provided. How did policy announcements affect the market? Have whole-house energy assessments unlocked energy efficiency opportunities? And could we have found the elusive answer for improving the private rented sector?

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Greater London Authority,Private Rented Sector

fuel poverty

A Warm Deal for London’s Renters

The need for a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard

It is a shocking fact that hundreds of thousands of London’s renters are shivering in damp, draughty homes they can’t afford to heat. This problem could be solved by effective minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector – but national standards are weak and difficult to enforce, leaving households at the mercy of their landlords.

ACE is asking the next Mayor to stand up for London’s renters and pledge to introduce a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes, of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2025.  See our full ask here.

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panorama

Treasury slammed following 9,000 cold home deaths

The Treasury was strongly criticised this week after a Panorama investigation revealed that over 9,000 people in England and Wales died from living in cold homes last winter.

The Panorama programme, ‘Too Poor to Stay Warm’, broadcast on Monday, cited research by academics at UCL which shows that a fifth of the 43,900 Excess Winter Deaths in Winter 2014/15 were due to people living in cold homes.

Yet Government support for energy efficiency has crashed by 80%. Making homes energy efficient is considered by experts as the only long term solution to fuel poverty, which affects over 4 million households in the UK.  The UK has one of the oldest and least energy efficient building stocks in Europe.

In our own research published earlier this week, also reported in The Guardian, we found that:

  • the number of energy efficiency measures installed in British homes has fallen by 80% since 2012
  • the number of households helped with energy efficiency measures has crashed by 76%
  • investment in home energy efficiency has declined by over 50%

We also found that the very low level of energy efficiency support now on offer is set to continue for the rest of this Parliament. During the last Parliament 5 million households were helped but we estimate that only 1.2 million households will receive energy efficiency measures this Parliament.

The Government axed Warm Front during the last Parliament, and the Green Deal and Green Deal Home Improvement Fund last year.  It also axed the UK’s zero carbon policy for new homes. Only the Energy Company Obligation is left, a levy on energy bills that was slashed in the Spending Review in December 2015.

A major alliance of 200 organisations and businesses under the Energy Bill Revolution banner is calling on the Government to make home energy efficiency an infrastructure priority. It is the most popular energy solution in the UK today with support across Parliament.

But the Treasury has refused to allocate one penny of the £120bn infrastructure budget to make homes energy efficient, despite the fact energy efficiency is classified as infrastructure by both the International Energy Agency and the European Investment Bank. According to the Government’s own economic data, making homes energy efficient also provides comparable economic returns to other infrastructure projects like roads and railways.

Jenny Holland, Head of Campaigns at ACE, said: “Our research findings are truly shocking. The UK has some of the worst housing stock in Europe, with levels of fuel poverty unheard of in much colder countries like Sweden. And UCL’s findings make clear that our cold homes were responsible for 9,000 avoidable deaths last winter. But Treasury help to upgrade our freezing homes has been slashed to the bone. The Government has pledged to make all fuel poor homes energy efficient by 2030, but without new funding, it will take them 94 years to meet their pledge. This is simply not good enough. By making energy efficiency an infrastructure priority, the Treasury could transform the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens, making their fuel bills affordable and greatly reducing the risk of cold-related illness.

Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution alliance said: “The decision by Treasury to decimate energy efficiency support will cost lives. Yet making UK homes energy efficient provides strong economic returns, as much as any other infrastructure project. But Osborne has chosen to invest £50 billion in HS2, £30 billion in road building and not one penny of the infrastructure budget in retrofitting the crumbling UK building stock. Perhaps he thinks there are more votes for the Conservatives by shaving a few minutes off a railway ride than saving the lives of the fuel poor.

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steve fawkes

Latest developments in energy efficiency financing

Dr. Steve Fawkes is the founder of EnergyPro Ltd which provides advisory services in energy efficiency financing and incubates new ventures. He is Senior Adviser to the Investor Confidence Project and sits on the Investment Committee of the London Energy Efficiency Fund. His blog onlyelevenpercent.com covers energy efficiency financing and related matters.

For many years the energy efficiency industry has complained of lack of finance as being a barrier – but the truth is more complex. The industry has always focused on capital cost and energy cost savings, usually expressed as payback period. It is time to move beyond this simplistic model. In the last few years the existence and value of non-energy benefits such as increased productivity, better health, increased revenues and many others has started to be recognized. The International Energy Agency estimated that non-energy benefits could be worth four times the value of energy savings. Recent work by the UK Green Building Council, Marks & Spencer and others, has looked at valuing these benefits in the retail sector. As well as financial value these non-energy benefits are much more strategic than simple energy savings, if retailers can increase sales or reduce employee turnover, those are strategic issues in way that energy savings will never be. The energy efficiency industry needs to learn to identify and value the strategic non-energy benefits in business cases for investment, whether it be internally or externally funded investment. It also needs to learn to build better business cases.

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