August 3rd 2023

The UK’s Net-Zero target is under threat: We must push forward despite policy barriers

The UK’s Net-Zero target is under threat: We must push forward despite policy barriers

The news that hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences will be granted is hugely concerning. It is the latest in a string of political developments in recent weeks that have brought the issue of the UK’s 2050 net zero targets into question. Worryingly, the current government appears to be watering down their climate policies in an attempt to revive its fortunes as the country gears up for its next general election.

Uncertainty remains over the future of low emission zones and the speed at which we will transition to non-petrol cars. But, what is clear is that we are still headed towards a climate emergency, and now is the time to act.

Senior government officials have been heard saying that the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales should be postponed, with some going as far as to say that rising global temperatures are “likely to be beneficial”. The decarbonisation of the built environment is also likely to take a backseat in climate policy, as reports have indicated the Government will allow landlords longer to meet energy-efficiency targets. The 2025 deadline for new tenancies and 2028 deadline for existing leases to reach at least a ‘C’ energy efficiency rating is likely to be postponed.

With the Climate Change Committee’s latest report (CCC) highlighting the built environment as the second-highest emitting sector, now is the time for more action rather than less. Policies surrounding building efficiency should be tightened up if the UK is to have any chance of reaching its ambitious target, which the CCC says we are currently not on track to hit.

It is clear that the next 12-18 months between now and the next general election are going to be among the most critical for the future of the planet and Britain’s role in shaping a greener pathway toward net zero.

It is critical for us all to work together – regardless of political stripe – to continue to shape the debate and underscore the science which confirms the facts we are now observing.

We must frame the discourse in both the here and now but also in the future. We must paint a picture of a changed world – one changed for the better – and provide people with a vision of the future we can be excited about and proud to have bequeathed to our children and grandchildren.

It is the green economy which will create new jobs, sustain growth, and drive down costs in our day to day lives and raise living standards. Nobody else will make the argument for us and we cannot let the next 18 months roll by with a shrug. 

At IES we firmly believe that we have a key role to play in decarbonising the built environment, and we’re continuously developing the technology to make that happen. The Built Environment accounts for almost 40% of global emissions and we’re working to get that down to Zero. Ultimately, we want to create a built environment that is resource and energy efficient. Eliminating global reliance on fossil fuels while promoting comfort, health and wellbeing, and fairer access to energy for every citizen in the world.

Just last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Scottish Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings and co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie to our Glasgow Headquarters, where we demonstrated how our Digital Twin technology is helping to deliver on our mission to decarbonise the built environment in Scotland and beyond. 

There are many companies and industry organisations in the UK that hold the same values and beliefs as us, and are working hard despite current obstacles, to push on with the net-zero agenda. We’re approaching a fork in the road and we must all pull together and do all we can to ensure we take the correct path to the destination we all need.