Achieving net zero: one-size fits all policies won't work

Former Energy Minister, Chris Skidmore, has recently put forth a proposal in his latest Net Zero Review, advocating for the construction of more energy-efficient homes.

However, there remains uncertainty about how existing homeowners and landlords can meet these standards and cover the costs without the support of an incentive package.

The final report, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary of State, aims to avoid placing undue burdens on businesses and consumers while pursuing the target.

This target is based on the UK Government's Net Zero Strategy, which was published in October 2021 and outlines the country's pathway to decarbonisation until 2037, with the goal of achieving a cost-effective net-zero energy system by 2050. The recent analysis conducted during the Independent Review reaffirms the appropriateness of this pathway and recommends proceeding with the 129 recommendations laid out in the Strategy.

The report identifies ten key priorities to mobilise public and private action up to 2035. These priorities encompass various themes such as Grid and infrastructure, Nuclear energy, Circular Economy and Waste management, and Net Zero Local Big Bang initiatives. Furthermore, one of the critical areas the report addresses is Energy Efficiency for households.

The report emphasises that achieving net zero will herald a new era of change and opportunity, outlining several key points:

  1. The UK must take decisive action to capitalise on the economic opportunities and ensure a smooth transition towards a net-zero future.

  2. The benefits of investing in net zero solutions today outweigh the associated costs.

  3. Unleashing the ambition of local communities and regions will result in the most successful version of net zero implementation.

  4. Net zero has the potential to significantly improve people's lives, both now and in 2050, but it requires careful work to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs.

  5. Net zero by 2050 remains the right target for the UK, supported by scientific evidence, widely adopted, and creating real opportunities.

  6. Substantial additional action by the UK Government is necessary to ensure that the country achieves net zero in the most effective and beneficial manner for the economy and the public.

Greener homes

Regarding greener homes, the report stresses that without realistic timeframes and a comprehensive financial support package, it is unlikely that targets within the private rented sector will be met. To achieve cleaner, cheaper, and greener homes, the report makes several key recommendations:

  1. The UK Government should expedite all consultations and efforts to mandate the Future Homes Standard by 2025.

  2. By 2033, all homes sold should meet the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C to ensure greater energy efficiency.

  3. The UK Government needs to reform EPC ratings urgently to create a more transparent and accessible Net Zero Performance Certificate (NZPC) for households, providing clarity for consumers.

  4. Considering a Net Zero Homes Standard for the future is essential, as homes that have implemented measures to enhance efficiency through fabric and low-carbon heating technologies will become more financially desirable to live in, buy, and sell.

  5. Additionally, the UK Government should prioritize the widespread adoption of heat pumps within a 10-year mission and plan for the end of new and replacement gas boilers by 2033.

In summary, the Net Zero Review highlights the importance of taking robust action to make homes more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, while emphasising the need for government support and clear targets to achieve these goals effectively.