September 29th 2023

UK Government U-turn on Green Policies: we must work together to rise above it

UK Government U-turn on Green Policies: we must work together to rise above it

Following the news in August of hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences being granted, we expressed our concern over the current UK government appearing to water down climate policies. It seems the Prime Minister is taking the Conservative’s surprise Uxbridge by-election win due to backlash over ULEZ as a green light to tank a string of crucial Net Zero initiatives. Controversially, the government have now backtracked further and plan to drop energy-efficiency targets for private rented homes.

Plans to drop these new energy-efficiency targets for private rented homes will serve as a major blockade to the decarbonisation of the built environment, which is recognised as the largest source of climate emissions after surface transport. And while it may save landlords money not to have to pay to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, it is their tenants who will suffer. 

Homes with poor energy efficiency ratings use and waste more energy, the costs of which remain sky-high amid a cost of living crisis. Occupant comfort will be put on the back burner, leaving tenants with homes that are harder to heat due to poor insulation in the winter months, or at risk of overheating during the record hot summers we have witnessed in recent years.

As it currently stands, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) announced in their latest report that more urgency is required for the Government, not less, so it is incredibly disappointing that Mr Sunak may gamble with such high stakes. We are already at breaking point and need to accelerate our efforts if we are to have any chance of tackling climate change, so if Rishi Sunak backtracks on several key Net Zero policies like reports suggest, the future impact will be catastrophic.

At IES we firmly believe that we have a key role to play in decarbonising the built environment, and we’re continuously developing the technology to make that happen. The Built Environment accounts for almost 40% of global emissions and we’re working to get that down to Zero. Ultimately, we want to create a built environment that is resource and energy efficient.

We at IES are signing, alongside many UKGBC members, a joint letter speaking out against the roll back of green policies, that will be released to the media and circulated at party conferences. The hope is that we have a window of opportunity, and if the pushback is strong enough, we may yet halt momentum behind a further driving back of green policy and ambition as manifestoes are written in the countdown to the general election. You can sign the letter here. The next 12-18 months in the run up to the next general election are going to be among the most important for the UK in meeting their 2050 net zero targets.

The Government is simply kicking the problem down the street. With decarbonisation of the built environment taking a backseat in the government’s climate policies, it becomes apparent that we must all pull together and do all we can, to create a changed world for the future. We are still headed towards a climate emergency, and the time to act is now.

Read more on my views on the government’s u-turn on green policies at PropertyWire, pbctoday, and Smart Cities World.