Climate Change Committee slams government energy efficiency failings

An open letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt outlines the need to reduce power consumption in properties, with direct cost-of-living and air quality benefits.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has called on the UK Government to take steps to improve the fabric of British building stock in a bid to improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption. 

gray concrete building with glass windows

In doing so, it is hoped the cost of usage for owners and tenants would fall, while the strain on the National Grid supply would also be reduced. As less energy consumption has a direct impact on emissions, this also ties in with long-term goals of the UK reaching Net Zero by 2050, and significantly contributes to air quality improvements. 

According to the documents, a decade ago 2.3m energy efficiency measures were being installed in buildings each year through Government-backed schemes. This figure had plummeted to just 100,000 installations by 2021 – a time when such steps should be a priority for both the environmental crisis, with the more recent race to become more energy independent adding more reasons to increase investment.

‘Regrettably, it is too late to introduce new policies to achieve widespread improvements to the fabric of buildings this winter. But there are many small changes which can still make a meaningful contribution to reducing energy demand,’ a spokesperson for the CCC said, pointing out that over 60% of households can achieve energy efficiency levels compatible with Net Zero targets for under £1,100. 

The letter goes on to challenge the UK Government to lead by example and roll out to efficiency measures in public estate buildings, which could act as a blueprint and proof of concept for others to follow suit. While acknowledging there are obstacles that must be addressed – including a lack of ‘long term policy stability’, skills and supply chain shortages, and poor standards for low emission and climate resilient homes – a number of recommendations have been made. These include: 

*Enhancing the Government’s energy advice service to include simple energy saving measures, as oppose to focussing on larger retrofits currently available 

*Increasing the content and reach of the Help for Households energy saving marketing campaign

*Shifting some public funding from bill subsidies to support for energy efficiency improvements

*Facilitating access to private financing for building improvements 

You can read the full letter here

Retrospective works on commercial and residential stock, and more rigorous regulations for new developments, can also have a major impact on indoor air quality. Professor Catherine Noakes of the University of Leeds made this point at last week’s National Air Quality Conference 2022 in London. Catch up with the highlights from our most recent event here.

Image: Ben Allan




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