Leading voices within the construction industry are calling upon the government to go further with their new net-zero carbon plans.
On 18th November, Boris Johnson announced a 10-point plan to usher in a ‘green industrial revolution.’ As reported by Construction News, the new plan will see the government invest £12bn over the next decade as part of the country’s efforts to eradicate its contribution to climate change by 2050.
A greener future for the UK
Johnson wants the country to produce enough offshore wind energy to power every home by 2030, equivalent to 40GW. He has also set out ambitions for the UK to generate 5GW of energy from hydrogen power and develop new large and small-scale nuclear power plants. Current peak demand for electricity in Great Britain is 62GW, according to Ofgem.
£12 billion of government investment
According to the gov.uk website, the ten-point plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment, and potentially three times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.
The plan focuses on increasing ambition in the following areas:
advancing offshore wind
driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen
delivering new and advanced nuclear power
accelerating the shift to zero emission vehicles
green public transport, cycling and walking
‘jet zero’ and green ships
investing in carbon capture, usage and storage
protecting our natural environment
green finance and innovation
The response from the FMB
This week’s announcement about the start of a Green Industrial Revolution needs to go further with the inclusion of a long term strategy to make all our homes greener and more energy efficient, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of FMB, said:
“The extension of the Green Homes Grant for another year is very positive news, and shows that builders’ concerns have been listened to. This will give the reassurance needed to the building industry to invest in the scheme. However, the Green Revolution needs to be more ambitious about the built environment if the Government is serious about creating a low carbon economy.”
Berry continued: “Our existing homes contribute 20% of all our carbon emissions and consume 35% of our energy. A long term retrofit strategy is needed over the next two decades to make all our existing homes more energy efficient. Such a strategy has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and save the NHS as much as £2 billion because of the cost of people living in poor housing conditions.”
He concluded: “The start of the Green Industrial Revolution has huge potential to improve everyone’s lives but tackling all our homes to make them greener and more energy efficient has to be an immediate priority and this requires a long term strategy.”
Building back better?
Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), was quoted by PBC Today. She said:
“This ten-point plan is recognition that in order to meet society’s net-zero aspirations, we need tangible action.
“We can only ‘build back better’ from Covid-19 if our growth is cleaner and greener.
“Proposals to turn London into a green financial centre are both welcome and necessary to supporting Net Zero ambitions, but giving local government the resilience and confidence to make carbon-free investments is arguably more important.
“The positive announcements on carbon capture/storage, hydrogen, nuclear, and offshore wind are areas we championed in our comprehensive spending review representation.
“However, doing all this in parallel, and at the same time as decarbonising our existing building stock, remains a huge challenge and we need to see the rapid implementation of these plans.”
No-one is likely to object to some serious government investment in a greener future. Also, at a time when so much focus has been placed on the immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic, it makes a welcome change to see the government outlining a longer range plan. However, as Brian Berry and Hannah Vickers both make clear, creating a greener future will necessitate retro-fitting existing buildings, not simply focusing on new builds.