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Climate Targets: Energy Efficiency

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 20 July 2022

4. What assessment he has made of the potential role of energy efficiency in meeting the UK’s climate targets. (901187)

8. What assessment he has made of the potential role of energy efficiency in meeting the UK’s climate targets. (901192)

Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our country, accounting for around 22% of total UK emissions. Energy efficiency measures are, indeed, a vital lever to drive down emissions, energy demand and, ultimately, bills.

Increasing the number of energy-efficient homes will help us to meet our climate targets and reduce bills. Around 70% of homes in Luton have an energy performance rating of band D or below, and these homes are more likely to include our town’s most deprived households. What discussions has the COP26 President had with the latest Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities about ensuring the green rhetoric on homes is equitable so that everyone can benefit from an energy-efficient home?

The Government are making £6.6 billion available over this Parliament to improve energy efficiency, and nearly half the homes in England are now rated band C or above, compared with 14% in 2010. On the wider point, we need an even bigger focus on energy efficiency in homes and buildings, as it will also help our energy security by driving down demand and bringing down people’s bills.

The Government have had a series of failed programmes on home insulation: the green new deal failed, and the recent green homes grant scheme failed, as the Public Accounts Committee has repeatedly reported. Does the Minister have any confidence that the Government will listen and tackle this major cause of emissions? If it is not tackled, it will put a serious dent in achieving the target of net zero by 2050.

The Government will, of course, respond to the report on the green homes grant, but I point out that some elements of it—the local authority delivery element and the social housing decarbonisation fund—have provided significant amounts of funding.

The COP President will know that the bulk of buildings that are around today will still be around in 2030 and 2050. Most of them are grossly inadequately insulated; even new buildings are not being built to an acceptable standard. When are we going to see some action on this crucial agenda?

I have set out the amount of funding the Government are providing over this Parliament—£6.6 billion on energy efficiency. I very much share the view that we need to be doing even more on this, particularly as we face energy security issues and energy prices are so high; more insulation in homes will deliver lower bills for households.

On energy efficiency, decarbonising in-home heating remains one of our biggest challenges in reaching our net zero 2050 target, so will the Minister join me in welcoming plans for a hydrogen village by 2025? Will he also have a chat with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary to encourage him to back our plans for one in Redcar and Cleveland?

I know that my hon. Friend is a great champion of green energy and, in particular, hydrogen in his area. I wish him luck with the plans and of course I will raise this matter the Business Secretary.

As has been pointed out, previous programmes to improve insulation in homes, under either this party or the Labour Party, have not delivered what any of us would have hoped. Does my right hon. Friend agree that if this was targeted effectively at the homes of those who suffer most, many of whom will also be paying unacceptable increases in their energy bills, we could have a very effective way of improving insulation, reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency?

I agree with my hon. Friend; this measure will not only lower bills, but reduce demand for energy at this critical point, where energy security is so important around the world and also in our country.

One way we could improve energy efficiency is by ensuring that new homes are energy-efficient. Will my right hon. Friend put pressure on developers to ensure that they are called to follow modern efficiency standards rather than the old ones?

Having modern, up-to-date standards is vital, and I will make sure I raise this with the appropriate Department.