UK’s low carbon buildings sector calls on UK Government to publish climate action plan

Press Release

UK’s low carbon buildings sector calls on UK Government to publish climate action plan

30 construction, heat and energy efficiency organisations, including Arup and Kingfisher, today call on the UK Government to publish a strong ’Clean Growth Plan’ with bold new polices to reduce emissions from homes and offices
The letter is coordinated by WWF and adds to growing pressure for the Government to publish its plan to reduce carbon emissions.
Ideas put forward could create 100,000 new jobs in the construction and service industries, reduce fuel poverty and the burden on the NHS from health problems made worse by poorly insulated homes
London: – The UK’s leading organisations active in the energy efficiency, construction and heat markets have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon. Greg Clark MP today, urging the UK Government to use its forthcoming plan to reduce carbon emissions[1], now confirmed to be called the ‘Clean Growth Plan’[2], to address the significant gap in policy to tackle emissions from buildings.

With over 40% of UK energy used to heat buildings[3], organisations including B&Q owner Kingfisher and Arup are calling for action on buildings, one of the weakest areas of Government policy to tackle climate change. Whilst emissions from electricity generation fell 36% between 2012 and 2015[4] driven by lower coal use and increased renewables, emissions from buildings have remained flat over the same period[5], following significant cuts to Government schemes to insulate homes[6], the demise of the Green Deal and the scrapping of the Zero Carbon Homes standard for new buildings.

Following Earth Hour 2017, where millions of people came together across the UK and worldwide to demand action on climate change, the organisations call for new policies to encourage householders to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes, one of the cheapest ways to reduce emissions. They also call for greater action on the transition to low carbon heat by helping investment in district heat networks and faster installation of electric heat pumps in homes off the gas grid.

They urge the Government to use the upcoming plan to reduce emissions to provide clarity for businesses and consumers and to seize the economic and social benefits on offer. For example, a national programme to bring all of the UK’s cold and leaky homes to an energy performance rating of ‘C’ or above would generate 100,000 new jobs in the construction and service industries[7], the training and skills for which could be coordinated through the Government’s new Industrial Strategy. Such a programme would boost economic productivity, help permanently eradicate fuel poverty, and reduce the costs to the NHS that arise as result of cold homes[8]. The organisations have specifically called for:

A long-term target for all homes to have an energy performance rating of C or above by 2035.
The introduction of minimum standards on efficiency for existing homes, enforced at the point of sale, and backed up by grants and zero interest loans.
All new buildings to be ‘nearly zero energy’ by 2020, as specified under the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive.
A clear strategy and policy to accelerate the roll out of low carbon heat, particularly electric heat pumps, in buildings off the gas grid to 2020 and beyond.
Support the growth of district heat networks by building on the Heat Network Investment Project through the 2020s and providing a long-term investment framework to facilitate lower cost capital.
A local authority-led approach to heat decarbonisation, to ensure a long-term plan for all buildings that coordinates action on energy efficiency and low carbon heat.
The 30 organisations, which include some of the UK’s biggest construction firms and the leading trade bodies in the low-carbon heat sector, have offered their support and expertise to the UK Government in delivering the emissions cuts that the UK needs to achieve to meet the requirements of the Climate Change Act. The Committee on Climate Change, the Government’s independent advisors on climate change, have warned that the without more effort, the UK risks over-shooting its climate targets by 23% in 2025, and have called for ‘stronger low-carbon policies in the Emissions Reduction Plan’[9].

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Energy and Climate Change at WWF said:

“The UK has a world-leading Climate Change Act, but the UK Government isn’t delivering the robust and ambitious plan for reducing emissions that we need. Climate change is not waiting; it is already having an impact today – from extreme weather events, to loss of wildlife and an increasingly unstable world. The low carbon economy represents a huge opportunity for UK businesses, so it’s no wonder that they’re desperately looking for longer term clarity that will enable them to invest in the technologies that we know can help to tackle climate change. The UK Government must heed their call and build these measures into their Clean Growth Plan; doing so will be good for the environment and good for the British economy.”

Chris Jofeh, Director of Global Buildings Retrofit at Arup stated:

“Decarbonising our buildings, done properly, will stimulate the economy, increase employment, reduce energy bills, enhance the UK’s energy security, and help the UK to honour its climate commitments. This is an opportunity for all of us to shape a better world for future generations.”

– ends –

Notes to the editor
The full list of signatories include: A&M Energy Solutions, Aran Services, Arup, Association for Decentralised Energy, Association for the Conservation of Energy, BAM Construct UK, BEAMA, British Energy Efficiency Federation, British Energy Efficiency Federation, British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers’ Association (BRUFMA), Ececo, Engineered Panels in Construction (EPIC), Federation of Environmental Trade Associations, Happy Energy, Heat Pump Association, Instagroup, Kingfisher, Kingspan Insulation, Knauf Insulation, Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA), MP Rendering ltd, Rockwool, SE2, SIG, Star Renewable Energy, Sunamp, Sussex Energy Group (University of Sussex), Sustainable Energy Association, UK District Energy Association and UK Green Building Council.
The UK Government’s plan to reduce emissions was scheduled to be published at the end of 2016, but has been delayed with no publication date set. This delay has been been commented on by the FSB[10] and the CBI[11].
WWF’s report “Closing the Carbon Gap” highlights the urgent need for a Clean Growth Plan.
WWF believes that the UK Government needs to set the UK on a path for a low-carbon future in order to meet our 2050 emissions reduction target – legally binding under the Climate Change Act. This will save future generations from facing the costly burden of climate change and provide a safer, more prosperous future for us all.  The government must start now by setting out the detailed policy measures needed for the UK to meet its carbon reduction targets for 2030. A failure to achieve our carbon reduction targets will result in the need for steeper and more costly emissions reductions as we near 2050, passing on greater costs to future generations. These costs will come alongside the impacts of climate change including extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity and an increasingly unstable world. Early action provides huge opportunities for the UK economy, growth and jobs – including in sectors like renewables and smart technologies, where the UK leads the world.  According to the government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, the UK is not currently on track to meet our targets even in the 2020s. While the UK has made progress this is mainly down to carbon reductions in the power sector.  In other areas – particularly heating and transport – emissions reductions are not on track to meet the reductions needed. WWF is calling for:

Stronger policies to reduce carbon emissions from heating buildings, including a comprehensive programme to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock and bring all homes to EPC ‘C’ by 2035
A commitment to put the UK on track to a largely carbon-free power system by 2030, with a clear long-term investment plan for renewable energy sources.
Direction for low carbon transport, including new policies for a transition to low-emissions vehicles, alongside a framework for controlling aviation emissions.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit https://wwwf.org.uk for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @wwf_uk.
For further information, please contact:

Alexander Stafford

+44 (0)1483 412332

07742 093510

astafford@wwf.org.uk

 

Sent on behalf of the organisations listed below

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria St
Westminster
London
SW1H 0ET

27 March 2017

Clean Growth Plan

Dear Secretary of State,

As companies and trade bodies active in the energy efficiency, construction and heat markets we urge you to use the Clean Growth Plan to address the significant gap in policy to decarbonise heat for buildings. We offer our support and expertise as a group of organisations that can play a crucial role in delivering the emissions cuts the UK needs to achieve, in addition to creating jobs and boosting economic productivity.

Research consistently suggests that reducing energy demand from our homes is one of the most cost effective ways to meet the UK’s 2050 carbon target. Taking a ‘fabric-first’ approach to decarbonising heat, where cost effective, will also provide many co-benefits to society in terms of healthcare costs, fuel poverty, jobs, energy security and economic productivity. Because of these benefits, energy efficiency should be designated an infrastructure investment priority for the UK.

Additional policy is also required to support the transition to low carbon heat. The Government should grasp the opportunities offered by existing technologies and support the growth of heat pumps and district heating to drive down carbon emissions in the short to medium term. In addition, there must be a concerted period of research and testing of heat decarbonisation options for the UK’s long-term needs.

The upcoming Clean Growth Plan is an opportunity to provide clarity for businesses in the energy efficiency, heating and construction sectors, and seize the economic benefits. A recent study found that a nationwide programme to improve the energy efficiency of homes would result in increased employment by up to 108,000 net jobs per annum over the period 2020-2030, mostly in the service and construction sectors. These jobs would be spread across every region and constituency of the UK[12].

We urge you to include the following in the Clean Growth Plan:

A long-term target for all homes to have an energy performance rating of C or above by 2035. This would provide a clear direction of travel for the sector, and enable investment across the supply chain.
The introduction of minimum standards on efficiency for existing homes, enforced at the point of sale, and backed up by incentives (for example, implemented through council tax or stamp duty), grants and zero interest loans.
All new buildings to be ‘nearly zero energy’ by 2020, as specified under the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive. As the UK goes through the process of leaving the EU, these standards or higher must be incorporated into UK law. This would ensure that we do not face costly retrofit in future years and create certainty for industry.
A clear strategy and policy to accelerate the roll out of low carbon heat, particularly electric heat pumps, in buildings off the gas grid to 2020 and beyond.
Support the growth of district heat networks by building on the Heat Network Investment Project through the 2020s and providing a long-term investment framework to facilitate lower cost capital.
A local authority-led approach to heat decarbonisation, to ensure we have a long-term plan for all buildings that coordinates action on energy efficiency and low carbon heat.

Building these measures into the Clean Growth Plan will be good for the environment and good for the British economy.

We would be very happy to come and discuss these points in more detail with you.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Mollard, ECO Director
A&M Energy Solutions
Mark Randall, Managing Director
Aran Services
Christopher Jofeh, Director, Global Buildings Retrofit Leader
Arup
Tim Rotheray, Director
Association for Decentralised Energy
Dr Joanne Wade, Chief Executive
Association for the Conservation of Energy
Graham Cash, Chief Executive
BAM Construct UK
Kelly Butler, Marketing Director
BEAMA
Andrew Warren, Chairman
British Energy Efficiency Federation
Simon Storer, Chief Executive
British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers’ Association (BRUFMA)
Harry Lloyd, Chairman
Ececo
Martin Hardwick, General Secretary
Engineered Panels in Construction (EPIC)
Russell Beattie, Chief Executive
Federation of Environmental Trade Associations
Adrian Wright, Chief Executive
Happy Energy
Mike Nankivell, President
Heat Pump Association
Lucy Shadbolt, Director
Instagroup
Jeremy Parsons, Head of Energy and Renewables
Kingfisher
Richard Burnley, Managing Director Insulation Britain & Ireland
Kingspan Insulation
John Sinfield, Managing Director
Knauf Insulation
Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director
Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA)
Robert McLarrie, Director
MP Rendering
Rory Moss, Managing Director
ROCKWOOL
Rachael Mills, Director & Co-founder
SE2
Andrew Orriss, Director
SIG
Dave Pearson, Director
Star Renewable Energy
Andrew Bissell, Chief Executive
Sunamp
Ken Munro, Chief Executive
Superglass
Dr Paula Kivimaa, Senior Research Fellow
& Dr Mari Martiskainen, Research Fellow
Sussex Energy Group, University of Sussex
Lesley Rudd, Acting Chief Executive
Sustainable Energy Association
Simon Woodward, Chairman
UK District Energy Association
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive

Chief Executive
UK Green Building Council
Sent by WWF on behalf of the above organisations. Please send any return correspondence to: Daniel Rubio, WWF-UK, The Living Planet Centre, Rufford House, Brewery Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 4LL (drubio@wwf.org.uk)

Cc:       Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Department for Communities and Local Government
Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, HM Treasury
[1]The Government has said it will publish its plan to reduce carbon emissions by March 31st, but recent rumours suggest that it will not be published until June: http://utilityweek.co.uk/news/industrial-strategy-colours-emissions-reduction/1296482#.WMpszlXyipo
[2] See Jesse Norman MP, 22.03.17 https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-03-22/debates/e4c68807-7454-41ab-86f4-7f21f7022b36/DraftElectricityAndGas(EnergyCompanyObligation)(Amendment)Order2017
[3] Committee on Climate Change, The Future of Heating UK buildings (2016)
[4] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Provisional UK greenhouse gas emissions statistics (2016)
[5] Committee on Climate Change; Progress Report to Parliament (2016)
[6] Funding for the Energy Company Obligation scheme
[7] Cambridge Econometrics, Building the Future, Oct 2014
[8] Public Health England; Fuel poverty and cold home-related health problems (2014)
[9] Committee on Climate Change; Progress Report to Parliament (2016)
[10] https://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/uk-power-plan-unplugged-without-small-firms-warns-fsb
[11] http://www.cbi.org.uk/insight-and-analysis/stepping-up-to-the-challenge/
[12] Building the Future: the economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient. Verco and Cambridge Econometrics, 2014.