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Government Net Zero announcements risk making climate measures “unnecessarily divisive”

Posted: 25th September 2023

Last Wednesday Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a series of delays to government plans to reach Net Zero with the scrapping of further measures on energy efficiency revealed over the course of the week.

CIC Climate Change Committee Chair Stephen Hodder reacted to the announcements: “In the construction industry we are becoming accustomed to indecision having been hit by delays and policy uncertainty in a number of areas including HS2, UKCA Marking and nutrient neutrality.

“Policy delays and the removal of industry drivers undermine our attempts to plan, train our workforce, invest for the future and develop cost-effective market-based solutions. This is particularly true in the case of our necessarily long-term journey to decarbonise the built environment and was already made clear to government in the industry response to the Skidmore Review. This uncertainty has already delayed valuable investment in climate-friendly solutions which would otherwise be much further down the road.

“On the back of the Prime Minister’s announcements we would also urge government to reflect on the campaigning language used to justify their choices such as depicting the UK’s legal and moral commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as a ‘culture war’ issue and the delay of these plans as an antidote to the cost-of-living crisis.

“This has been framed by an exaggerated notion of what the alternative policy choices are and an effort to downplay the benefits of measures to decarbonise the UK in terms of job creation, wellbeing and ultimately lowering costs for households and businesses.

“We have concerns that this approach will also lead to the critical work needed to improve the UK’s climate resilience, reduce our energy dependency and protect our biodiversity becoming an unnecessarily divisive issue.

“We urge government to work with us and support the construction industry by helping to build trust and confidence in the proposals we are making to reduce emissions and defend the UK against the growing climate emergency.

“Dates are nothing without plans and it is only through a holistic approach to decarbonisation taking into account factors such as planning, fabric first and upskilling that we can meet the challenges ahead.”