The UK’s hidden agenda

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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Heads of European Governments have ignored all the evidence on energy efficiency and failed to set binding targets. What was behind the UK’s opposition?

Not that long ago, I recall visiting the offices of those overseeing UK energy policy, to be greeted with a large poster that read: “Real Men Build Power Stations.” How things have changed, you might think.

The International Energy Agency now routinely describes energy efficiency as “the first fuel” option. This March the heads of the 28 European Union governments unanimously agreed that increasing investment in energy efficiency should be the “first step” taken to reduce energy imports and increase energy security.

The day after he became Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey launched the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office, promising that improving energy saving would be his “number one priority.”

We are all donkeys

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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On average, we are all 18 per cent wealthier in real terms than we were at the start of the century. On average, we are achieving this increase in affluence while using 14 per cent less energy than in 2000.

One way this turnaround has been achieved is by treating us all like donkeys.

There are three ways to get donkeys to do things. You wave a carrot in front of their noses. You bash them on the rump with a stick. And most importantly, around their ears, you rattle away on a tambourine. All to get the donkey’s attention.

‘Building the Future’ hits the nail on the head

Written by Joanne Wade on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

Joanne Wade

ACE today welcomed the publication of ‘Building the Future: the economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient‘.  This report, by Verco and Cambridge Econometrics for the Energy Bill Revolution, sets out clearly how making our homes more energy efficient is an infrastructure investment that delivers high Value for Money through reduced energy bills and NHS costs, increased tax revenue for the Government, higher employment, increases in company profits and carbon emissions reductions.

When the Prime Minister tried to justify the government’s decision to block a binding European energy efficiency target last week, he focused on the need to reduce carbon emissions ‘at the lowest possible cost for businesses and consumers‘ As demonstrated by the report, energy efficiency investment goes beyond the Prime Minister’s requirement and actually delivers net benefits for businesses (£15bn in cumulative, additional (discounted) profits to 2035, consumers (£8.6 billion per year) and the Government itself (£1.27 in tax revenue for every £1 invested).

Achieving the level of energy efficiency improvement modelled in the report will require policy action to invest on behalf of low income households and to support investment by able-to-pay households, and we urge Mr Cameron to honour his commitment to energy efficiency, and back up his commitment to carbon emissions reduction with the action needed to deliver it at net benefit to the UK.

EU 2030 energy efficiency target sends all the wrong signals to investors and means 56m Europeans will continue to live in cold homes

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

jenny

ACE has reacted angrily today to the news that European leaders have adopted a 27% non-binding energy efficiency target, which represents a slowing of current progress on energy efficiency and will mean 56m Europeans will continue to live in homes they cannot afford to heat.

Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:
“We have long campaigned for a 40% EU energy efficiency target, which would have been the most cost-effective way to deliver emissions reductions, greater energy security and an end to the misery of 56m Europeans who have to live in homes they can’t afford to keep warm.
“The 30% target proposed by the European Commission already represented a regrettable lack of ambition, amounting only to a continuation of current rates of energy efficiency improvement. But the 27% non-binding target agreed by Europe’s leaders last night amounts to a slowing of current progress on energy efficiency. It means that the opportunity has been squandered to lower energy bills for households and businesses by a whopping €239 billion each year by 2030.
“For the energy efficiency industry, this unambitious target sends out all the wrong signals about Europe as a place in which to invest for the longer term. With the promise of a review of the target in 2020, we will be keeping up the pressure on both the UK Government and the European institutions to put in place a much more ambitious target at the start of the new decade.”

For more information, contact: Jenny Holland, jenny@ukace.org, 07875 629781

Note for editors:
See below for a more detailed ACE commentary on the EU 2030 energy efficiency target:
“Energy efficiency is now universally regarded as the first fuel. It is the key to reducing CO2 emissions at least cost, it creates sustainable employment where and when we need it most, it saves consumers money and helps the 56 million Europeans who cannot afford to heat their homes adequately, it improves the state of public finances, enhances competitiveness and increases GDP. More pertinently than ever, it is the best way to enhance Europe’s energy security, by reducing the need to import fossil fuels from dangerous places. It is the one sanction on Putin that has real bite, and does not hurt Europe’s own economic interests.
“The European Commission recommended a binding 30% energy efficiency target for 2030. Whilst this would have represented a continuation of business as usual energy efficiency improvement, it would have at least brought up the rear, ensuring that the costs of meeting CO2 targets are reduced and the benefits increased. A binding 40% target would have ensured minimised costs and maximised benefits, alongside massively reducing dependence on Russian gas.
“While the 2030 target for reducing CO2 emissions by 40% is to be commended – particularly in the context of securing a global climate deal – and the at least EU-level binding status of the 27% renewables target is to be welcomed, the end-result of a non-binding energy efficiency target of 27% is appalling. Instead of taking its rightful place as first fuel, energy efficiency has been relegated to the position of Europe’s energy Cinderella.
“The UK Government, while an important player in securing the CO2 target, had previously been opposed to an energy efficiency target of any description, even a non-binding one. But agreeing to 27% is cold comfort. It is below the business as usual rate of energy efficiency improvement in the EU, and sends out a discouraging signal to investors. Moreover, the European Council agreed in March that energy efficiency was the top priority for energy security and boosting growth, but now:
• The CO2 target will be achieved at far less net economic benefit than it could be
• Compared to a 40% target, over three million jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors will be foregone by 2030
• Net gas imports will be 45% higher than under a 40% target
• Energy costs to consumers will be unnecessarily high
“The status of the energy efficiency target will be up for formal review in 2020, where the Commission will consider a 30% target. Had European leaders at least agreed to make 30% binding, it would have guaranteed €2.5 trillion in savings to European consumers to 2030. We will be working hard with others to ensure that the European Parliament pushes the target back up and is made binding as well, levelling the playing field for energy efficiency, thus securing its status as an integral part of Europe’s energy infrastructure.”

ACE response to DECC consultation on a new fuel poverty ‘strategy’ for England

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Campaigns, Consultation Responses

DECC

ACE has submitted a written response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation on a new fuel poverty strategy for England. A strategy is widely held to encompass the following elements, elements which we would have hoped to see after four years of deliberation: identifying the nature and scale of the challenge at hand; setting goals to meet that challenge; laying out policies, programmes and actions to achieve those goals; and earmarking resources to execute the policies, programmes and actions. Instead, the consultation contained a series of important but ultimately small picture questions. In our response, we focused on answering big picture questions not posed in it.

In summary, the draft fuel poverty strategy proposes to set a target to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as is ‘reasonably practicable’ achieve a minimum standard of EPC Band C by 2030. ACE welcomes the Government’s recognition that setting a high standard for energy efficiency is the best long-term solution to tackling fuel poverty. However, we believe that all low income households – not just those that are fuel poor – should be targeted and that the Band C standard should be reached by 2025, not 2030. We also believe that the ‘reasonably practicable’ caveat should be removed or, at the very least, tightly defined so as to ensure that it cannot be used by future Governments as an excuse for failing to implement the Fuel Poverty Strategy. Finally, the interim targets of EPC Band E by 2020 and EPC Band D by 2025 should be removed, as it is far more efficient and effective to improve homes in one go straight to Band C, thus ‘fuel poverty proofing’ them and removing the necessity for expensive repeat visits.

New hub needed to focus on existing buildings

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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One of the great triumphs of genuine private/public co-operation has been the work of the non-profit Zero Carbon Hub. Ever since its formation in 2008, it has proved to be the acknowledged entity to which everyone turns – companies and Ministers alike – to consider how best to progress towards ensuring that only the most energy and carbon-efficient new buildings are constructed.

But the vast majority of the buildings we shall be living and working in forty years from now have already been built. Precious few of these are even vaguely zero carbon; most waste bucketfuls of energy every day. By common consent we have one of the oldest, and certainly one of the least energy efficient, building stocks in the entire western world.

It is clear that one of the main challenges over the ensuing decades will continue to be to dramatically improve the energy performance of these buildings. This will need to happen at a rate long aspired to. But – as has been shown in the case of the flagship Green Deal Finance policy – right now falling woefully short of even its cost-effective (let alone technical) potential.

Labour conference puts energy efficiency centre stage

Written by Joanne Wade on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

Shadow-housing-minister-Caroline-Flint

ACE welcomes Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate, Caroline Flint’s pledge at the Labour party conference today to ‘make energy saving a national infrastructure priority’.

We also welcome the commitment to require private rented accommodation to meet a decency standard by 2027: we urge the Labour party to ensure that this standard is set high enough (EPC band C) to deliver homes that are fit for purpose in a low energy, low carbon economy.

Delivering on the infrastructure priority promise requires investment: why then are Labour confining themselves only to a level of action that can be achieved ‘without spending any more money’?

A promise to make 200,000 homes warm every year is good – but not good enough: it could leave families living in dangerously cold homes for a further 30 years. The six million low income families living in homes that are too expensive to heat need real priority to be given to this investment. Using only a very small portion of the £45 billion invested in infrastructure each year would enable the level of action to be increased enormously. We therefore urge Labour to increase the ambition of their implementation plans to match the strength of their pledge.

Energy efficiency investment will strengthen the UK economy

Written by Joanne Wade on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

Joanne Wade

WWF today published a report from Cambridge Econometrics that sets out the value that reducing carbon emissions will bring to the UK economy. The action needed to meet the UK’s 4th carbon budget, which will include significant investment in energy efficiency, will deliver 190,000 additional jobs, make households better off financially, provide new business opportunities and result in a net increase in annual Government revenue of £5.7bn by 2030.

 
Average net benefits to households will come close to offsetting the impact of increasing energy prices. These benefits will not be felt equally however, and the report notes that government needs therefore to target support at exposed or vulnerable groups. That is why we – and our allies in the End Fuel Poverty Coalition – are calling for the homes of all low income households to be improved to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2025. Improving homes to this standard will result in dramatic improvements to both the energy bill affordability and quality of life of their occupants.

 
The energy efficiency benefits set out in the WWF report can only be realised, however, if investors are confident in the market for energy efficiency goods and services: a government commitment to making energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority is key to this, together with long-term, rigorously enforced regulation of the energy efficiency of buildings.

Don’t let this first step become tied up in red tape

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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Back in 2011 the Government introduced legislation that Ministers promised would outlaw the letting of any F- or G-rated buildings from 2018. This month marks the conclusion of the
Government’s formal consultation detailing precisely how this potentially market-revolutionising policy will be delivered in practice.

The private rented sector is of growing importance in the residential sector. In the last 15 years the number of people renting from private landlords has increased from 10 to 18 per cent of all households.

That is a sizeable percentage. But nothing like as large as the proportion of the buildings in the non-residential sector that are rented out.

DECC: Consultations on Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Consultation Responses, Perspective

DECC

ACE has submitted written responses to The Department of Energy and Climate Change consultations on private rented sector energy efficiency regulations, for the domestic and non-domestic sectors respectively. Following a campaign by ACE and its allies, the Energy Act 2011 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to bring into force regulations to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the domestic and non-domestic private rented sector in England and Wales.

On the domestic sector consultation, delays have caused concern and uncertainty for an energy efficiency industry gearing up to deliver improvements. We are pleased therefore that the long-awaited consultation has finally been published. However, the Government’s proposals contain a number of key flaws, which must be remedied if the minimum standard is to be enforceable by local authorities and to deliver improvements up to an Energy Performance Certificate Band E in all cases.

We have similar concerns regarding the non-domestic sector regulations. Moreover, as former ACE Director Andrew Warren wrote on September 9, what is deeply worrying is that a very large number of non-domestic buildings have not yet had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) issued despite the leaseholder having altered (a state of affairs which is in breach of the law). Many of these are likely to be poor performers on the EPC scale. The knock-on problem is that these illegally un-certified buildings are not captured by the regulations for minimum energy performance.

Read ACE’s…: