Lord Best, President of Sustainable Energy Association
President of the SEA, Lord Best, started off the speeches by issuing thanks to previous Chief Executive of the SEA Lesley Rudd, and wished her the best of luck in her new role. New Chief Executive Jade Lewis was welcomed by Lord Best and he highlighted how much we look forward to working with her when she starts officially. Lord Best also paid tribute to Sam Crichton and Ron Bailey who have worked tirelessly over the last year to bring the Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill, sponsored by Lord Foster, in front of Parliament. The Bill aims to legislate the halfway stage to net-zero – all homes to be EPC band C by 2035 – to ensure that we are able to meet our goals and create homes that are fit for the future.
Energy Minister, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
The Energy Minister followed on from Lord Best and stressed that he believes the next big challenge for decarbonisation is domestic heating which will take ‘energised engagement’ from across the sector to tackle; industry, academia, finance and Government will all play a role. The Minister stressed that joined up policy is essential and that the journey for heating homes and buildings – which accounts for 26% of total carbon emissions – will require a revolution in energy efficiency and heating. He explained that net-zero is unachievable without these widespread changes. Finally, the Minister noted that the Government, Ofgem and industry bodies like the SEA are required to come up with the right policy solutions which ultimately save money in the end. He explained that he believes it is absolutely right that enlightened and engaged people seek to drive the thinking in this space and welcomed Lord Foster to the stage to talk about his Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill.
Lord Foster of Bath
Lord Foster, who is taking the Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill forward in the House of Lords, agreed with the Energy Minister that existing homes are key to tackle in meeting net-zero by 2050. He stressed that the UK’s 29 million homes are responsible for 17% of emissions and that reductions in emissions have stalled whilst standards are lagging behind where they need to be. He explained that his Bill just requires the Government to simply put in place legislation around their existing targets, meaning that regardless of changes in Government the legacy to improve homes and tackle climate change will remain. Lord Foster outlined the support given by over 100 organisations for Sir David Amess’ similar Bill in the House of Commons last year, which stated that ‘boardrooms and banks must be persuaded to invest into long term infrastructure, manufacturing and equipment and research and development. This legislation will provide the certainty needed to trigger this vital investment’. He explained that not supporting the Bill could lead to an enormous loss of confidence and subsequent investment, whilst issuing support for it will help achieve a housing stock fit for future generations, have ‘far reaching implications in tackling climate change and helping the least well off whilst we do so’. You can support the Domestic Premises (Energy Performance) Bill here.
Baroness Brown of Cambridge
Similarly to the preceding speakers, Baroness Brown, who serves as Vice Chair of the Committee on Climate Change and Chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee, highlighted the challenges of net-zero and how it could also be a huge opportunity for the UK. She explained that with the same amount of investment (1 – 2% GDP) as an 80% emissions reduction target, net-zero has benefitted from falling prices of energy for offshore wind, solar PV although now the most challenge aspect will be decarbonising buildings. This will take about 1% of the 1 – 2% GDP investment, so the SEA and industry focussing on this area are dealing with the largest challenge. Building on Lord Foster’s words, Baroness Brown explained that there is a need for much tougher regulation and standards and some legislation to bring about changes to address the housing stock and climate change, as well as financial support and incentives.