Government will miss climate change targets because of 'failing policy' on energy efficiency, MPs warn

Benjamin Kentish

The UK will miss its target for cutting climate emissions because of the government’s “failing policy” on energy efficiency, a committee of MPs has warned.

Targets for reducing fuel poverty are also set to be missed because of funding cuts and “a lack of political will”, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said.

The MPs found that the number of home insulation measures being funded by government schemes has dropped by 95 per cent since 2012.

The government has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but the committee said “decisive and far-reaching government action” was needed if there is to be “any chance” of achieving it.

Increasing energy efficiency would also be the most effective way of eradicating fuel poverty and reducing energy bills, it said.

The report said the government was “off-track to meet its targets”, in part because “major policy gaps still exist” – significantly less is being spent per head on energy efficiency in England than under the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The MPs accused the government of having “set targets for energy efficiency without having a clear grasp of how much public investment is required to meet them”.

They said: “The UK’s building stock remains one of the most inefficient in Europe. If the government will not back energy efficiency, one of the cheapest ways to reduce our carbon emissions, it will not bode well for the other, costlier actions required for decarbonisation.”

They added: “We conclude that the government is presiding over a failing policy. It needs to be revived. Progress is not stalling due to a lack of evidence on how to drive energy efficiency uptake, but a lack of political will.”

The committee said the government had failed to force businesses and housebuilders to boost energy efficiency, and should compel them to meet the latest standards. They also called ministers’ new £5m Green Home Finance Innovation Fund “woefully inadequate” for encouraging people to increase the efficiency of their homes and businesses.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the BEIS Committee, said: “Improving energy efficiency is by far the cheapest way of cutting our emissions and must be a key plank of any credible strategy to deliver net zero by 2050.

“If the government lacks the political will to deliver energy efficiency improvements, how can we expect it to get on with the costlier actions needed to tackle climate change?”

She added: “Despite a consensus on what needs to be done, ministers have continued to sit on their hands and failed to deliver the policies needed to boost energy efficiency. ”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that to achieve its 2035 energy targets for all homes, it had “invested £5m to develop green mortgages to help homeowners improve the efficiency of their properties”.

They said the department had also offered support for businesses to act and was helping to improve the energy performance of up to 17,000 public buildings including schools and hospitals.