Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set out his vision of a revised path to net zero and his plans for sensible, green leadership, you can read the speech in full on this LINK.
Many in the industry have responded with their views, some of the comments are shown below.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on net zero policies yesterday, Wates has issued the following statement:
“The built environment is where the Government should focus if it wants to continue driving toward the 2050 Net Zero goal whilst minimising impact on ordinary working people.
“The UK’s buildings account for a third of our total emissions and so it makes sense to prioritise the decarbonisation of commercial and public owned buildings, through retrofit, improved building regulations and skills development. This approach would help to reduce the country’s carbon footprint whilst also driving economic growth, creating new jobs, and growing the skilled workforce it will need for the much bigger challenge of decarbonising homes across the country.
“To achieve this transformation, businesses like us need clarity and certainty of policy going forward to ensure we can make the required investment to help the UK deliver on our international commitments and achieve net zero by 2050.”
Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), said in response to the Prime Minister’s announcement about the delay of several green commitments:
“In recent years, the UK’s plumbing and heating sector has diligently retooled and upskilled to be green technology transition-ready. While this announcement offers industry and consumers a brief reprieve to help ensure the skills, infrastructure and cost efficiencies are all in place, it significantly impacts the many businesses that have made substantial investments to be policy-ready.
“The announced delays from Westminster will also have a cascading effect on the devolved administrations’ low carbon ambitions, further confusing public messaging and embedding hesitation in business investment to the green transition.
“Moreover, it fundamentally ignores the vast economic advantages green technologies derive – from potential consumer cost savings of £25-36bn, £70bn in export opportunities, and £100bn of inward investment.
“The UK has an opportunity to lead the world in green technologies. Weakening our resolve jeopardises our global standing and ignores the rich economic landscape these initiatives bring.”
In response to the recent speech outlining Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new approach to net zero, Stewart Clements, Director of the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), commented:
“Following yesterday’s speech made by the Prime Minister, we welcome the time afforded to make a more thought out and successful switch to low carbon heating. This will play a pivotal role in our journey in achieving net zero and decarbonising homes across the country.
“The 50% increase in financial support provided through the enhanced Boiler Upgrade Scheme and Great British Insulation Scheme will undoubtedly incentivise the switch to heat pumps for more homeowners. Such a positive initiative, however, requires a significantly larger number of installers than previously estimated, which the government must work with industry to address.
“Data gathered by the HHIC suggests that to meet the Government’s ambitious heat pump installation target of 600,000, we require 100,000 installers more than the Government’s prediction of 50,000 – a figure almost equivalent to the entire Gas Safe Register. This shows the need for further support in addressing the current skills gap to meet the expected rise in demand for low carbon heating.
“Decarbonising the heating economy is possible, yet it will require a collaborative effort from manufacturers, trade associations and the Government to achieve the long-term goals outlined by the Prime Minister. Incentivising heating engineers to add heat pump installation to their offering will prove invaluable to the Government if they are determined to meet their ambitious 2030 targets related to net zero.”
Paul Reeve, ECA’s Director of CSR, commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement said:
“Rishi Sunak’s overall direction of travel towards achieving net zero has not changed. But a delay in the timescale will undoubtably shake the confidence and plans of many large and small businesses alike, not to mention consumers.
“The new timetable gives more time to decarbonise and develop the UK grid. Instead of focusing on one or two low carbon fixes, it’s an opportunity to move to a ‘technology agnostic’ approach, by installing the most energy efficient solutions.
“It’s also a chance for the government’s overdue review of electricity pricing – to make it fairer for households adopting low carbon electrical technology – to get back on track.
“Alongside this, the UK’s EV charging infrastructure must be significantly ramped up to satisfy customer demand and meet crucial safety standards”.
Existing technologies can already deliver the carbon savings needed to reach 2050 net zero targets. A much greater obstacle to achieving the targets, not mentioned in the PM’s statement, is the shortage of competent professionals to install these technologies.
While ECA welcomes the Prime Minister’s boost for research and development, it will do little to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions in the short term. Investment in training and skills cannot wait if the UK wants to stay ahead of the net zero curve. Industry needs certainty to invest in the training needed for a safe transition to a low carbon economy.
Andrew Eldred, ECA’s Director of Workforce and Public Affairs and said:
“The extra time available must be used to good effect, low carbon technologies are evolving fast, but they all require a level of core competence to be installed safely.
“To train just to install EV charge points will not equip you to be an installer of future technology or to retrofit a building. Neither will it equip you to understand how that piece of tech integrates with other low carbon technologies.
“It might in fact lead to greater carbon emissions, through a malfunctioning building. But most worryingly, without the right level of competence, it could prove dangerous to consumers and lead to grid capacity issues. The safe and reliable electricity we all enjoy today in the UK relies on a century of work to maintain high standards”.
ECA are currently running a series of ten net zero roadshows for their members. These are designed to help installers consider the practical and business implications of pivoting their firms to net zero work.
And for those of you who prefer your news with a satirical twist you might like to follow this
(WARNING contains bad language)
to check out Jonathan Pye’s thoughts on the announcment