For understandable reasons, 2020 is yet to live up to its moniker as the ‘year of climate action’. However, big decisions that will dictate the UK’s path to net zero emissions remain both urgent and imminent, especially on how we keep warm at home. The Government’s Heat and Buildings Decarbonisation Strategy is vitally important for cutting emissions and is due this autumn. Somewhat handily for decision-makers in Whitehall, the Scottish Government’s latest Programme for Government contains a good outline of what ambition looks like. The urgency to tackle emissions from heat arises from a lack of progress compared with other sectors. In Scotland, whilst energy supply emissions have fallen by 72% since 1990, residential progress is less than half of that at just -22%. England’s record is even worse, with a 68% fall in energy supply comparing to a measly -11% in residential. Thus, success in this area is reliant on strong, ambitious action from the UK Central Government. Despite this, Scotland has an accelerated net zero timeline compared to the rest of the Great Britain. And to reflect this, its 2020/21 Programme for Government goes beyond what the Central UK Government has so far promised. The Scottish Government’s programme for 2020/21, released in early September, pledges a total of nearly £1.6 billion to transform buildings, ensuring ‘that emissions from heating are eliminated by 2040’ and ‘poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty’ is removed. This may seem small against the £9.2 billion promised in the Conservative manifesto for improving the energy efficiency of English homes, schools and hospitals, especially once considering the English funding is spread over a four-year time period compared to Scotland’s six. However, it’s important to note that so far only £2 billon of the energy efficiency spend has currently been realised, via the Green Homes Grant. Add in expectations under the Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme, and current total ambition sits at 625,000 homes – just 2% of Britain’s housing stock.
ECIU 7th Sept 2020 read more »