New survey shows that British businesses believe energy efficiency policies need strengthening

A recent article by staff on the BusinessGreen website shows that there is significant dissatisfaction over the government’s existing plans to improve energy productivity. Would this also be the case in your own country?


Survey: UK business energy efficiency targets “lack ambition”

Businesses believe government policy needs strengthening, survey reveals, amid continued uncertainty across the energy efficiency sector

The UK’s energy efficiency policy framework has once again fallen under the spotlight, with a new survey suggesting the majority of green businesses believe current industry targets are not nearly as ambitious as they should be.

A poll of Environmental Industry Commission (EIC) members published yesterday reveals significant dissatisfaction over the government’s existing plans to improve energy productivity. Respondents called for a major overhaul of energy efficiency policies to introduce new tax incentives to boost uptake of efficiency measures and reform building energy performance certificates.

In its Clean Growth Strategy unveiled last October, the government said it wanted to improve energy productivity from UK industry by 20 per cent by 2030 against business-as-usual levels, and has subsequently launched a series of consultations aimed at strengthening energy efficiency policies.

The government has previously said it is “determined” to help businesses improve their energy productivity, and that the 2030 target will help “contribute to overall economic growth”.

However, 59 per cent of respondents to the EIC survey said they did not feel the current target was ambitious enough, including 14 per cent who either describing the goal as ‘not ambitious at all’ or ‘not very ambitious’, and another 45 per cent agreeing that it ‘could be more ambitious’.

On more specific policies, 88 per cent of respondents said the Clean Growth Strategy’s calls for ‘as many homes as possible’ to be EPC rated C or above for energy efficiency standards by 2035 should also be extended to commercial buildings.

More than half also said there were too many landlord exemptions to the statutory Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), which enters into force from April this year.

The rules state that owners of commercial and private rental properties must undertake energy efficiency measures to bring their buildings up to scratch, but concerns have been raised about ‘loopholes’ to the legislation.

Moreover, in order to drive uptake of efficiency measures, more than 90 per cent of respondents said the government should focus on providing tax incentives and on making Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) reflect real world building performance. Nearly two thirds, meanwhile, said they would support reform of the UK’s mandatory Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

EIC executive director Matthew Farrow said the findings – published in the latest quarterly energy efficiency trends report by analysts EEVS Insight and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) – showed the government was being “over cautious” in its approach to business energy efficiency and “should set a tougher target” for 2030.

Writing in the report, he described energy saving as, historically, the “Cinderella of energy policy”, but that ministers are still “struggling for ideas for how to overcome the perennial challenges of energy efficiency policy”.

All in all, he said, the survey showed “a lot of consensus around some clear messages”.

“The Clean Growth Strategy target for energy efficiency lacks ambition, existing policies should be toughened up and tax incentives, EPC and ESOS reform considered,” Farrow wrote. “And without better enforcement none of this will be of any value. Plenty for EIC to be talking to government about in 2018.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was considering a request for comment at the time of going to press.


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