After the 2018 Budget revealed how the government is accelerating the shift towards a clean economy with its Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, and 25 Year Environment Plan, Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond issued his Spring Statement on March 13, building on this commitment.
The Spring Statement from Mr Hammond detailed a spectrum of efficiency and environmental commitments.
For smaller businesses, to help reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions, government is launching a call for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme to explore how it can support investment in energy efficiency measures.
For homes, meanwhile, the government plans to introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure new builds are future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.
The proportion of green gas in the grid will be increased, reducing dependence on burning natural gas in homes and businesses alike.
Continuing the move towards decarbonisation, government will launch a call for evidence on Offsetting Transport Emissions which will examine consumer understanding of emissions from their journeys, options they can take to offset them, and the role of travel providers in offering carbon offsets to customers.
On biodiversity, the Statement revealed a plan to protect wildlife and the natural environment, mandating net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity. The government is also expected to launch a global review into the Economics of Biodiversity.
Industry has reacted to Mr Hammond’s Spring Statement, with Caroline Russell, chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, stating: “We welcome the move towards new homes that do not rely on fossil fuels. If we are to challenge the impact of this climate emergency then the government needs to lead the way with the toughest standards.
“However, the measure does not go nearly far enough. We need to confront the homes in the capital that do not meet even the most basic energy efficiency requirements, as well as those which are failing to keep pace with modern ways of living.
“Our latest report Keeping Out The Chill calls for a widespread campaign of smart retrofitting that will save money, keep homes warm and dry and cut the amount of carbon-fuelled energy that is simply wasted.”
Max Halliwell of Mitsubishi Electric Heating & Ventilation Systems said: “We welcome the comments made today by the Chancellor and see this as a real acknowledgment that the way we heat our homes is no longer fit for purpose. The announcement of the Future Homes Standard – to end fossil fuel heating systems in all new homes from 2025 – is certainly a step in the right direction.
“However, action must be taken now to ensure the residential building industry pivots away from its ‘business as usual’ approach to providing their customers with renewable heating technologies not as a costly alternative, but as the norm. We have a choice and abundance of renewable technologies that are not being used to their full potential and our reliance on fossil-fuels, gas and carbon intensive sources is clearly not a sustainable option for the future.
“For this country to meet its climate reduction commitments, we need to act fast to move to low-carbon renewable solutions. We need to future-proof our homes as pressure on energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions is only set to increase. This shift in mindset and the use of innovative technologies such as heat pumps will become increasingly important to help create a sustainable environment for future generations.”
Simon Phelan, chief executive of Hometree, said: “As a sustainably conscious, modern company, Hometree would be fully supportive of the a Future Homes Standard, shifting away from gas central heating technology to more environmentally focused ones. In particular, electric boiler and heat pumps would be great technologies to push into new homes, but work needs to be done to ensure the customer does not end up paying more – either for the technology itself, or for the ongoing electricity costs to run it.
“Either way, Hometree intends to be at the fore-front of decarbonising the UK’s high carbon-emitting homes, and would see this shift as a huge step in the right direction.”
Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group chief executive Mark Wilson added: “These are welcome incentives from the government and a recognition that more action is urgently needed if we are to meet our climate change targets.
“We all need to do our part and Pump Storage Hydro can play a major role in reducing our carbon emissions and is an essential enabler for renewable energy.”
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