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ACE’s response to the Mayor of London’s draft London Environment Strategy

ACE welcomes the vision and principles of the Mayor of London’s draft London Environment Strategy and the ambition for London to be a zero-carbon city by 2050.

We agree that the city’s most pressing environmental challenges are harming Londoners’ health and the city’s economy, and that the current pace of change is too slow. The Mayor highlights that big problems need ambitious responses. Therefore, we would like to see the Mayor’s activity and focus on air quality continue, but also expanded in relation to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, improving the lives and reducing health inequalities of those households that are in fuel poverty, whilst supporting economic growth in the environmental goods and services sector.

Our full response to consultation on this strategy can be found here.

 

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Brexit,European Energy Efficiency Directive,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,European Union

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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Press Release: ‘Scandalous’ – winter deaths surge, but Chancellor slashes help for cold homes by 42%

Press Release, for immediate release

ACE’s reaction to Excess Winter Deaths figures and Comprehensive Spending Review

On the same day that official figures reveal that last winter’s Excess Winter Deaths were at their highest level for 15 years, ACE has described as ‘scandalous’ the Chancellor’s announcement of a 42% cut in the help available to households living in dangerously cold homes. They have also expressed disappointment that, despite allocating £100 billion for infrastructure projects, Mr Osborne has chosen to spend not one penny of this pot to make the UK housing stock more energy efficient.

Jenny Holland, Head of the Parliamentary Team, said:

“The appalling state of our housing stock is one of the key causes of excess winter deaths, which today’s figures show surged last winter to their highest level in 15 years.  Yet despite this, the Chancellor has today ignored industry-wide pleas to release infrastructure funding for an energy efficiency programme.  Instead, he has announced that the Energy Company Obligation – the only remaining help for householders living in cold homes – will be slashed to £640m a year from 2017, a drop of 42% on annual ECO spending to date.

”The Chancellor boasts that households benefitting from the ECO are expected to save £300 on their bills. But these lucky few will amount to just 200,000 per year. The other 5 million poorest households who struggle with their basic living costs won’t even get a look in until April 2022.”

In addition, while welcoming the proposal to build 40,000 ‘affordable’ homes by 2020, ACE points out that, having ditched the zero carbon homes standard earlier in the year, the Chancellor has needlessly saddled these homes with higher fuel bills.  ACE also describes as a missed opportunity the Chancellor’s refusal to announce variable rates of stamp duty based on a home’s energy efficiency.

Jenny Holland continued:

“It’s a bit rich for the Chancellor to trumpet these new homes as ‘affordable’ when he was the one who, without warning, ditched the zero carbon homes standard in July.  This means that these new homes will be needlessly saddled with higher running costs – or householders will be forced to have expensive and messy retrofits at some later stage to bring their homes up to scratch.

“Meanwhile, the Chancellor has again shown a willingness to adjust stamp duty as a policy lever, increasing it by 3% for buy-to-let purchasers.  But he has once again failed to incentivise energy efficiency investment by introducing a revenue-neutral adjustment to stamp duty based on homes’ energy performance.”

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

PDF version of press release

Notes for Editors:

The new Energy Company Obligation, to run for 5 years from April 2017, will cost £640m per year.  That represents a 42% reduction in the ECO’s actual expenditure to date (£1.1bn per annum on average over the 2.5 years to the end of June 2015, according to the latest available official statistics).

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Display Energy Certificates,Energy Performance Certificates,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,Zero Carbon Homes

Our response to the European Commission’s consultation on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

This consultation forms part of the evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Under the terms of the Directive, the Commission is required to carry out this evaluation by 1 January 2017, with assistance from a Committee of Member States’ representatives. The evaluation should reflect the experience gained and progress made since the adoption of the Directive. If necessary, the Commission should make proposals on the basis of the evaluation.

The evaluation also follows on from the Energy Efficiency Communication of July 2014, which indicated that additional measures to be introduced to improve energy efficiency would need to primarily address the energy efficiency of buildings and products if progress is to be made by 2030. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is the main legislative instrument in force at EU level covering the energy efficiency of buildings.

With a primary focus the UK energy efficiency market, our response to the consultation highlights: the uncertainty following the abandonment of the zero carbon trajectory; the missed opportunities with respect to driving higher rates of renovation; the low level of compliance with EPBD’s provisions and the virtual absence of enforcement; the question marks hanging over Display Energy Certificates; the need to make EPC data more widely accessible; and the need to plug skills and capacity shortages in the energy services and energy auditing sectors.

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Building Regulations,Eric Pickles,Zero Carbon Homes

Kick out this absurd policy

Buy a new home from a small company. And guarantee higher fuel bills, increasing emissions and general confusion between regulators and consumers. Sounds like a poor deal all round, both for the purchaser, and the marketing prospects for smaller construction companies?

I would agree. But nonetheless Communities Secretary Eric Pickles seems determined to foist this absurd proposal onto the marketplace as soon as possible.

Since 2006 it is has been agreed policy among the three major political parties that all new homes built from 2016 should emit zero carbon. This became legally binding (albeit by 2019) under the 2010 recast of the European Energy Performance of Buildings directive.

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Energy Efficient Buildings,Zero Carbon Homes

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New hub needed to focus on existing buildings

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.

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Code for Sustainable Homes,Department for Communities and Local Government,Environmental Audit Committee,Planning and Energy Act

Environmental Audit Committee: Inquiry into Housing Standards Review

The Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the Government consultation on the Housing Standards Review, which proposes “to wind down the role” of the Code for Sustainable Homes. It is taking oral evidence today. ACE submitted its written evidence to the Committee last week; the main points provided in evidence are:

  • The new Part L of the Building Regulations has not gone as far as anticipated in terms of the minimum standard it sets for new housing.
  • Against this backdrop, the justifications used for proposing to get rid of Code for Sustainable Homes energy standards and falling back to Part L alone, whilst proposing to amend or remove the Planning and Energy Act in consequence, are even flimsier and more narrow-minded than they would otherwise have been.
  • The proposals, if adopted, would reduce housing quality, increase running costs for occupants, damage localism and stifle construction innovation.
  • And the proposals are made all the more remarkable for their political naivety and short-sightedness.

Download our evidence, and read Andrew Warren’s earlier article on this topic.

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