Ahead of COP26, we look at the various UK Government energy efficiency initiatives, underpinned by policies and strategies, that are set to tackle fuel poverty and decarbonise homes, to achieve net zero by 2050.
The COP26 Summit
The UK will host the 26th UK Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from the 31st of October to the 12th of November. The climate talks will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.
The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference Summit is just days away. What are they looking to achieve at COP26?
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilise finance
- Rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together
UK Government leading the way in achieving net zero by 2050
Ahead of COP26, the UK Government has released their Net Zero Strategy, which sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet the net zero target by 2050.
This comes after the Prime Minister set out his 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, released last year, laying the foundations for a green economic recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK Government are looking to position themselves at the forefront of the growing global green economy, with the Prime Minister regularly quoted as saying, “build back better and build back greener”.
Featuring in the 10-point plan for a greener revolution, underpinned by the Clean Growth Strategy, the Government sets out their ambitions including to advance offshore wind, accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles and aim for greener buildings.
According to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in the annual statistics for UK greenhouse gas emissions, the UK emitted 454.8 MtCO2e in 2019 with 80% coming from carbon dioxide. Contribution came from different sectors including transport, energy supply, business, waste management, agriculture and residential.
These are statistics from the UK alone. Globally, every country will collectively need to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis. One of the key goals of the COP26 Summit, mobilising heads of states to act now, coming up in the next few days.
Residential buildings contribute up to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions
Decarbonising residential buildings is key to achieving net zero by 2050 and building a sustainable environment for future generations. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy advise that residential buildings contribute up to 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions. This highlights why the Government are developing strategies, policies, and initiatives with the aim to improve our buildings fabric efficiency and change the way we heat our homes.
The 29 million plus homes across the UK, must be made low carbon if we are to achieve net zero by 2050.
Key Government strategy: driving decarbonisation of homes and tackling fuel poverty
According to the Government’s Heat and Building Strategy, decarbonising buildings can provide a major economic stimulus. Upgrading homes could support over 240,000 low-carbon jobs by 2035 across the sector.
The Government has stated that net zero will mean gradually moving away from burning fossil fuels for heating our homes, which is why they plan to phase out the installation of new natural has boilers from 2035.
According to the annual fuel poverty statistics report 2021, in 2019 there were an estimated 13.4 per cent of households (3.18 million) in fuel poverty in England. This statistic is based on data from 2019 and following the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside the energy crisis, the number of households living in fuel poverty is expected to rise.
The Government’s Sustainable Warmth Strategy, is designed to ensure that people in fuel poverty have access to affordable, low-carbon warmth as we transition to net zero.
Are the latest Government led energy efficiency schemes, such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Sustainable Warmth Competition, effectively designed to help the most fuel poor in our society?
Government driven energy efficiency schemes
There are various energy efficiency schemes running presently, or in the pipeline, which are all designed to offer households across all tenures, funding, and incentives to adopt and have installed, energy-saving measures in their homes.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme
Included within the Heat and Building Strategy, the Government has announced their plans to incentivise householders to install low-carbon heating systems. This forms part of a wider plan to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
From April 2022, homeowners will be able to access £5,000 to switch their gas boiler for a heat pump or other low-carbon alternative, through the Government’s recently announced, £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Incentivising early adopters through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
Michael Morrall, Head of Business Development at Dyson Energy Services, said, “We welcome the announcement on the Government’s plans to launch a Boiler Upgrade Scheme from April of next year. However, we believe that improving the energy efficiency of homes, by adopting a fabric-first approach, is key in ensuring the transition to low-carbon heating and to make it cost-effective for householders.”
Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund
The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is a ten-year initiative which focuses on upgrading the energy efficiency in the social housing market and covers a range of energy efficiency measures including insulation and low-carbon heating technologies.
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
The current scheme, ECO3, was launched in December 2018 and runs until 31st of March 2022. The Energy Company Obligation scheme is an obligation placed on the energy companies to provide funding for low-income households and benefit recipients, and is designed to alleviate fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions, and help reduce householder’s energy bills.
According to BEIS (Household Energy Efficiency March 2021 report), around 3.1 million measures have been installed in around 2.3 million properties through ECO and the Green Deal framework. Around 3 million of these measures (97%) were delivered through ECO.
Michael Morrall, Head of Business Development at Dyson Energy Services, said “The next round of the Energy Company Obligation, ECO4, is due to commence in April 2022 and will run for a four-year period at approx. £1billion per annum. By design, it will have a greater emphasis on installing multiple measures in homes, taking a whole house approach, significantly improving the energy performance certificate rating, and reducing householders’ energy bills. For a scheme that’s main objective is to tackle fuel poverty, rather than decarbonisation as such, which some would agree work hand in hand, the design of the scheme needs to ensure it is viable for the supply chain to deliver measures in the most fuel poor homes and archetypes that have been left behind in previous schemes”.
Sustainable Warmth Competition
The Sustainable Warmth Competition, an amalgamation of Local Area Delivery 3 (LAD3) and Homes Upgrade Grant (HUG) funding, is targeted at the most fuel poor households in the private sector and will be delivered through Local Authorities, from 2022.
Michael Morrall, said, “We look forward to future initiatives aimed at the able to pay consumers in the private sector. Following the closure of the well-intended Green Homes Grant Scheme, we are hopeful that any future initiatives are much more consumer focused and less complex in their design. The Government are going to have to prioritise making energy efficiency upgrades affordable for all, with the introduction of green finance to bridge the gap in any grants and funding available to householders. Government led communication campaigns on the green agenda, which are accessible and easy to understand for the mass audiences, are key in taking consumers with us, on this green pathway.”