The big picture and little local difficulties

6th May 2019


It would be amiss not to reference the big news this week – the launch of the Climate Change Committee report on achieving “Net Zero”. It is a huge piece of work and looks set to be accepted by policymakers – certainly after the last few weeks of intense pressure – and last week Parliament accepted that we face a climate emergency. Does it mean what the CCC say will be adopted, not necessarily, it merely points out that with the measures it highlights then Net Zero is achievable?

The challenge facing industry and policy makers, in my opinion, is to make sure change happens with consumers and it doesn’t happen to them. This seems obvious, but it might need restating in the years to come.

BEIS signalled their intention to move towards Net Zero, and Ministers welcomed the report. But they too have a challenge. They need to put their own house in order first. So let’s address their local difficulty.

We’ve come across a BEIS funded proposal that seeks to ensure energy efficiency improvements meet high standards – no problem with that but they have trapped boiler replacements (because they improve energy efficiency) into the same scheme that is designed for whole-house retrofits. The ensuing extra requirements will place an additional cost on consumers when they have to replace a broken boiler.

But, and here’s the rub, they are excluding boiler repairs from these requirements. So faced with additional costs to replace a boiler, upgrading to a high-efficiency model, there is now a financial incentive to repair an older, less efficient model. This simply runs counter to the whole climate change agenda advocated by the CCC and endorsed by Ministers. On my mild days, I’d say this is a classic case of unintended consequences. When less favourably disposed, I’d say that they don’t know what they are doing.

These local difficulties are the shape of things to come. New proposals will flood forward, all under the label Net Zero and they will all need careful examination. Our duty at times will be to protect policymakers from themselves.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO