Changing UK Climate Policies
The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he plans to amend certain UK climate policies in efforts to restore financial stability within families and to achieve other political motives. This has raised concerns among many people, with experts deeming this as a matter of weakening the climate policies and fear that it will negatively cause long-term consequences. Whilst the amendments have not materialized, there is still an opportunity for the prime minister to retract his comments. Nevertheless, these are some of the following major climate policies that he plans to weaken and the potential implications:
Firstly, he plans to push back banning the sales of new cars with combustion engines from 2030 to 2035. This would severely affect the UK’s net-zero pathway because delaying the ban will enable petrol and diesel cars to remain on the streets longer and increase GHG emissions of a sector which is already prevalent as the largest emitters in the UK; the transport sector in 2022 accounted for 34% of the total GHG emissions. Furthermore, experts speculate that the delay would extend the UK’s dependency on petrol and diesel cars and expose the UK to the volatility of fuel prices, potentially causing it to be more economically damaging. Hopefully, electric vehicles will be cheaper and available to the masses over time. However, the prime minister has also admitted that the government has been slow to introduce electric vehicle charging points nationwide and has failed to upgrade the national grid. If there is no consistency or ambition to improve infrastructure for electric cars in the UK vastly, then it will be difficult for the UK to achieve their national target by 2050.
Secondly, the prime minister plans to phase out 80% of the installation of gas boilers by 2030 and delay the ban on off-grid oil boilers from 2026 to 2035, with only an 80% phase-out target at that date. Given these circumstances, the UK will have to continue to rely on imported gas and oil for longer, with the UK government prolonging their efforts to help homeowners transition to heat pumps and other clean alternatives. He claims that this would help households save money as the transition would be expensive. On the other hand, he has announced that grants for people under the boiler upgrade scheme would increase to £7,500, which is somewhat promising news, as installing these clean alternatives would be cheaper.. However, there seems to be very little thought behind the fact that gas and oil prices remain relatively high following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and with an inadequate sense of future costs, it may continue to hurt the UK public in the foreseeable future.
Lastly, he plans to scrap specific regulations on minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for rental properties, where landlords are no longer required to meet energy efficiency targets. Despite protecting landlords from paying for insulation upgrades, tenants will incur greater costs to ensure their home is warm and comfortable. In 2022, research showed that tenants living in poorly insulated homes would have to spend £1,000 more on gas over a winter. Rising gas prices and poorly insulated homes will remain a challenge and most detrimental for tenants if it remains unresolved.
Beyond all, delaying the phase-out date could undermine foreign investments in multiple sectors developing clean technologies such as electric vehicles and buildings’ HVAC. A consistent timeframe should be given to stakeholders like manufacturers so that they are given time to prepare and strategise for the transition.
How can ETS help?
If you are concerned with political decisions that may affect your business’s energy performance and net-zero pathway, ETS can assist you realign your net-zero pathway with energy solutions and long-term strategies and ensure that you are on course to achieving your targets.
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