Buro Happold contributes to the latest report from the aldersgate group

In the new report from the Aldersgate Group, A Brighter, More Secure Future: Low carbon priorities for the new government, leaders from multiple sectors of the economy, academia and civil society – including Buro Happold – set out the key policy priorities in this parliament that will allow the UK to meet its carbon targets on time, on budget and in way that will be beneficial to the UK economy.

The report, which will be debated at a high profile event on 8th July (2015) in Guildhall jointly hosted by the City of London Corporation and the Aldersgate Group, argues that the environmental and low carbon goods sector is already playing a key role in the UKʼs continued economic recovery, with an annual turnover in excess of £122bn in 2013. But the sector is now at a crossroads and needs clear policies for the decade ahead to ensure its continued growth.

Within the report (view the full report here) Duncan Price sets out his vision of the of future of low carbon priorities for the UK government:

What do you see as the priority for UK climate and energy policy in the next 5 years?

  • Top of the list has to be leading by example in the run up to Paris. The UK must commit to strong national policies and in so doing, provide confidence to other countries that it is possible to deliver a global deal to limit climate change to no more than 2 degrees.
  • The government should designate energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and make sure it become one of the 40 projects in the £100bn budget to enable the National Infrastructure Plan. We need to recognize the multiple benefits that this can bring for the UK including jobs, growth, lower bills, improved health and energy security.
  • The government needs to set out a comprehensive transition plan to increase energy resilience and deliver the fourth carbon budget. This should include the respective roles for energy efficiency, low carbon electricity and low carbon heat. We need an energy policy that embraces distributed generation, demand management and storage and brings clarity of intent on e-mobility and electric heat. It should facilitate a regional approach to energy markets to strengthen devolved governance and enhance economic development.

What should the new Government do to help accelerate the cost reduction of clean energy technologies and their deployment?

  • There needs to be stability in deployment of incentives and advance communication over their withdrawal.
  • We need a clear roadmap with long term policies and appropriate milestones to provide confidence to industry, technology investors and project developers. This reduces perceptions of risk, lowers the cost of capital and crowds in private investment.
  • Early stage technologies and markets need to be pump primed with risk capital and structural funds in order to bring about economies of scale and investment in innovation so that the UK can be competitive on an international stage.

What do you think would be the best way for the new Government to make significant progress in energy efficiency?

  • Buildings should be at the heart of the government’s low carbon growth strategy with policies to support zero carbon new build, highly energy efficient retrofit and community scale solutions.
  • The Government must commit to delivering zero carbon homes from 2016  and zero carbon non-domestic buildings from 2019 so that our new housing and non-domestic buildings are built to the highest achievable standard of energy efficiency and deliver low energy bills for families and businesses.
  • On retrofit it must ensure that minimum energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector are properly enforced and it must strengthen, harmonize and streamline the range of policies for non-domestic buildings including CRC, ESOS and Display Energy Certificates.
  • It should establish a national home improvement programme and publish a strategy to improve all low income homes to EPC Band “C” by 2025 and bring all properties to this level by 2035. We need a comprehensive set of policy nudges, financial mechanisms and regulations specific to each housing sector to drive demand.
  • Delivery of energy efficiency needs to go hand-in-hand with the delivery of heat networks in urban areas.  We need to respect the fact that ground up regional and city energy planning needs to play a big role and offers the most effective way of de-risking projects and driving investment and delivery of integrated infrastructure.

Commenting on the release of the report, Joan Walley, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “One crucial area for government engagement will be to continue driving ambition to achieve binding commitments at the climate change negotiations in Paris at the end of this year. But as many businesses in 1 BIS (March 2015) The Size and Performance of the UK Low Carbon Economy our report make clear, the UKʼs positive stance in international negotiations must be backed up by credible and stable policies at home to grow an efficient and low carbon economy rapidly. The government now needs to set out its plans for the low carbon economy in the very near future.”

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