156.Energy efficiency needs to be addressed now if the UK is to have any chance of meeting its fourth and fifth carbon budgets, let alone net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Evidence on how crucial energy efficiency investment is for meeting climate obligations, eradicating fuel poverty and lowering bills is not new, it is well-known. Despite the Government setting ambitious energy efficiency targets and accepting that there are substantial returns on energy efficiency investment, public investment in energy efficiency has shrunk and the rate of installations has gone backwards. The Government is presiding over a failing policy. It needs to be revived. The current approach, in which market forces are left to deliver energy efficiency, needs to be augmented by decisive and far-reaching Government action.
157.There is general consensus among Government advisory bodies, and almost all external stakeholders, including industry, on what needs to be done. The policies we advocate are not radical but are based on successful examples elsewhere. The problem is not a lack of evidence on how to stimulate energy efficiency uptake. There is simply a lack of political will. The recommendations we set out, if taken forward, will help put the Government on the path to meeting its own rhetoric on energy efficiency. These include: confirming energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, underpinned by sufficient and sustained central Government funding; placing local authorities in the driving seat to deliver fuel poverty schemes; employing a comprehensive package of incentives and finance mechanisms for the ‘able to pay’ market; implementing robust regulation; and the provision of local energy advice and sufficient quality assurance standards. Ultimately, the way to do more is not to do less.
Published: 12 July 2019