Government opposes 'powerless' energy efficiency proposals

The government has rejected calls to beef up its target of getting all homes to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C standard by 2035 - while signalling that its own heat policy road map will be published "very soon".

Policymakers have been facing calls for shorter-term roadmaps to help decarbonise homes in line with its 2050 target.

Policymakers have been facing calls for shorter-term roadmaps to help decarbonise homes in line with its 2050 target.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Foster introduced into the House of Lords legislation designed to give legislative force to the government’s target of 2035 for all homes to be brought up to EPC Band C.

The Domestic Properties (Minimum Energy Performance) Bill includes an interim target that all fuel poor homes in England should reach Band C by 2030.

The bill would also require the government to submit annual reports to Parliament on its progress towards the target, as it already has to for emissions reductions under the Climate Change Act.

The bill would provide caveats from the 2035 target – where people refuse to allow required works to be carried out, it is not technically feasible to achieve the objective or the cost of doing so would be “excessive”.

Lord Foster told peers that “most” of the money required to upgrade homes could come from committed government expenditure and non-government sources, such as the industry-funded Energy Companies Obligation scheme.

Junior energy minister Lord Duncan said that even though it was in line with its own aspiration, the government would oppose the bill because it provided less flexibility for achieving the 2035 target.

He said: “It gives us no new powers or levers. It does not actually help us achieve the ends; it would simply set the framework within which we are to achieve them.”

And Lord Duncan said the government’s heat policy road map, which will be published “in the next few months,” will contain dates for improvements to be made.

He said the road map, which would address how to reduce emissions from buildings, will be published alongside a fuel poverty strategy for England.

Lord Deben, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said that while Parliament should not block the bill, the 2035 target is insufficiently ambitious.

He said: “It confirms the government’s targets, which are not good enough. If we want to get to net zero in 2050, we have to do a great deal of the heavy lifting by 2030. If we do not, we cannot get to net-zero by 2050.

“It is below the minimum that we need to do to achieve our ends.”

The Sustainable Energy Association (SEA), which backs the bill, said that establishing 2035 as a legal target would provide the certainty required to trigger investment and innovation in the sector.

Ron Bailey, parliamentary campaigner for the SEA said: “We believe that commitment within government to reach this (2035) goal is lacking, and current policy is failing to drive uptake for energy efficiency measures in homes.”

He added that the bill would “help to provide certainty to the industry; encouraging business and homeowners to invest in low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainable solutions”.

The SEA says that 19 million homes currently do not meet the Band C benchmark.

David Blackman

This article first appeared on edie's sister title, Utility Week

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