Earlier this week, PM Rishi Sunak announced revised plans for the UK in forging a path towards Net Zero by 2050.
Whilst re-affirming his Government’s overall commitment to this objective, re-asserting that this course of action is not slowing down efforts to combat climate change, the Government is now taking a more “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach, whilst also looking to be more transparent to the British public and “bringing the country along on the journey” too – with the primary aim of reducing the burden on families, whilst still meeting international commitments.
Under the revised plans, the Government will:
- Push back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars/vans by 5 years – until 2035, so all new cars from 2035 will be zero emission.
- Delay the ban on oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026.
- Set an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel boilers (including gas) in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives will not have to do so.
- Scrap policies forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, but continuing to encourage households to do so, where they can. (Note, the former policy stipulated that, from 2025, new tenancies would only be possible in properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating C of better – from 2028, this policy would have been applied to existing tenancies as well as new tenancies.
Despite the policy shift, Mr Sunak insists that the UK target of achieving Net Zero by 2050 remains and is confident it will be achieved.
For our clients in the social housing sector, it should still very much be “business as usual” for their retrofitting / decarbonisation agenda. Existing development or asset management cycles are well in train and the plan to reduce the substantial level of emissions from housing (c.40% of the UK’s total carbon / greenhouse gas emissions) should continue. The funding acquired through SHDF Waves 1 and 2.1 remain available and ready to be used.
There will inevitably be an impact of such statements on the net zero agenda but our experience within the housing, retrofitting and regeneration spheres tells us that master-planning for decarbonisation is likely to and should go beyond government cycles and transcend such policy shifts where it can.
Sustainability and the focus on decarbonisation is one of Devonshires’ primary focuses, as we continue to support our social housing clients through this complex and changeable landscape. For further information, please contact James Grinstead or Caroline Mostowfi in our Sustainability and Decarbonisation Team.