Actions speak louder than words, and simply abandoning a critically important decarbonisation scheme when cracks appeared sets a poor example in the year we aim to show climate leadership.
Abandoning a key scheme to make homes more energy efficient sets a “poor example” of climate leadership, the head of a parliamentary committee has warned.
Philip Dunne MP, the Tory Environmental Audit Committee chairman, has warned that the UK Government’s move to abandon the green homes grant scheme must pave the way for an improved programme.
The green homes grant was launched for householders in September last year, with £1.5 billion available in vouchers towards paying for measures such as insulation and low-carbon heating in hundreds of thousands of homes.
The scheme was due to run until March as a green stimulus measure, but was extended until March next year before being scrapped last month after delays for householders and tradespeople left only a fraction of the pot spent.
In a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Mr Dunne said there was a “worrying gap” in measures to encourage homeowners and landlords to retrofit their properties with measures to make them more energy efficient.
He said a credible strategy to cut carbon from buildings was needed as soon as possible, and before the UK hosts a global Cop26 climate summit in November.
The move by government to abandon the green homes grant programme was made just after the EAC issued a report calling for the scheme to be urgently overhauled and extended.
Mr Dunne said: “We have been clear all along: the green homes grant was a good initiative but was poorly implemented.
“This government has shown its willingness to be an environmental world leader, but I fear its green credentials risk being undermined by poor policy decisions.
“Actions speak louder than words, and simply abandoning a critically important decarbonisation scheme when cracks appeared sets a poor example in the year we aim to show climate leadership.”
He said undertaking effective retrofits and stemming the emissions from homes was key to the UK reaching “net zero” by 2050, which requires cutting pollution to as near zero as possible and offsetting any remaining emissions with measures to absorb carbon.
Businesses needed to have the confidence to upskill employees, householders needed to understand how energy efficiency could be enhanced and heating costs cut, and the Government must commit to essential initiatives to cut carbon from homes, he urged.
A Business Department spokesman said all green homes voucher applications received would be processed, meaning installations would continue over the coming months, supporting jobs and delivering upgrades to households.
On Tuesday Boris Johnson announced a new legal target to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly four-fifths by 2035. The prime minister described the target to reduce emissions by 78 percent on 1990 levels by 2035 as the most ambitious in the world.
Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.