Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of the Building Research Establishment (BRE), comments on the UK Government’s updated climate strategy, announced on 30 March.
“We welcome the Government’s latest plans to drive investment in reforming the UK’s energy system. We need a clear plan to transition our homes and buildings to clean heat and this latest announcement is a key step forward in achieving this.
“However, I am concerned that there is not enough of a sense of urgency about the scale of the challenges we face. Although there are welcome steps towards certainty for business, a longer term approach to support planning and investment is still not fully in place. We need to join up and raise standards across the board if we are to stand a chance of meeting the UK’s net zero targets.
“I am concerned that there is not enough of a sense of urgency about the scale of the challenges we face. Although there are welcome steps towards certainty for business, a longer term approach to support planning and investment is still not fully in place” – Gillian Charlesworth CEO of BRE.
“The ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’ will provide welcome support to around 300,000 homes to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. However, this only accounts for a small portion of the UK’s homes and will not tackle the vast majority of the able-to-pay market. We hope that this is the next step towards a truly comprehensive national retrofit strategy which offers targeted advice and support to every home which needs it.
“We are also pleased to see investment in the Heat Pump Investment Accelerator as part of the Government’s efforts to stimulate the UK heat pump market and bring down costs over the long-term for businesses and consumers. Plans to rebalance gas and electricity costs are similarly welcomed as this will help incentivise households to transition to heat pumps.
“We hope that extending the Boiler Upgrade Scheme may mean that more households can make use of the funding and move away from gas boilers – but only with a targeted effort to raise awareness of the scheme itself.
“We will look forward to reading the Government’s responses to the consultation on improving the energy performance of privately rented homes which has been long-awaited by industry, and responding to its forthcoming consultation on how best to support owner-occupiers. As well as standards for rented buildings and homes, it is reasonable that large commercial buildings should be measuring and benchmarking their energy use and resulting carbon emissions. The government consulted on a plan for this in 2021 and we would like to have heard how it plans to move this forward.
“Lastly, the investment in the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) will be key in driving green finance. Our world-leading sustainability standard BREEAM is used by an increasing number of global financial institutions to provide assurance that their investments are green. Maximising the impact of these types of schemes through programmes like the UKIB will be important in helping more companies reach net zero.”
Read BRE’s latest report on how the UK can decarbonise heating.