Draughty homes targeted in UK climate change masterplan
The UK’s draughtiest homes will be insulated and upgraded by 2035 to save families as much as £300 a year on their energy bills, under the government’s climate change masterplan.
The long-delayed blueprint for how the UK will hit its binding target of cutting emissions by 57% by 2032 majors on support for everything from low-carbon power, energy savings and electric vehicles to keeping food waste out of landfill.
Big winners in the 164-page Clean Growth Strategy include offshore windfarm developers, who will be guaranteed a further £550m of subsidies to build new turbines throughout the next decade.
Energy efficiency is at the heart of the strategy, which the government was required to publish under the Climate Change Act. All houses will be brought up to the minimum of energy band C by 2035, and existing schemes to improve insulation will be extended until 2028.
New nuclear power stations are encouraged, but prospective builders such as France’s EDF are told they will only go ahead if they can do so at competitive prices.
Ministers also held open the prospect of future support for solar power, and gave partial backing for onshore windfarms.
The business secretary, Greg Clark, compared the changes under way in energy today to the big changes wrought by the UK’s first coal power station in 1882.
“This government has put clean growth at the heart of its industrial strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change,” he said, launching the plan at the Olympic Park in east London.
Green groups and observers welcomed the plan but said it needed more ambition in some areas, particularly on supporting cleaner cars.
But there are also notable omissions in the strategy, in particular backing for a proposed £1.3bn tidal lagoon power station in Swansea.
The plan is also scant on any detail of how the UK will cut emissions from heating, talking instead of simply exploring the best options. Low-carbon alternatives to gas include electrification via heat pumps, or using greener gases such as hydrogen.
Robert Gross, director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College London, said the politics of the strategy were key, and showed the greener wings of the Tory party had won out.
“In 2015 the government started hacking and slashing at all manner of green policies. This has stopped, and that’s very welcome,” he said.
John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The strategy is in on the right track but we need a more ambitious destination.”
Other experts said the broad thrust of the strategy was good, but it was vague in some areas.
“There is much to praise in the Clean Growth Strategy but there are also many aspirations rather than tangible policy commitments. For instance the strategy is notably vague on industrial energy efficiency,” said Prof Sam Fankhauser, director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
Big winners in the 164-page Clean Growth Strategy include offshore windfarm developers. Photograph: Steve Morgan for the Guardian