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National context

Climate Change Act

The UK Climate Change Act 2008 sets out legally binding carbon emission reduction targets.

The 2019 Amendment to the Climate Change Act introduced a target for a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, often referred to as the 'net zero' target. If met, this target effectively means that the UK will end its contribution to global carbon emissions by 2050.

The Act also established a system of carbon budgeting, to help the UK meet its targets through a series of Carbon Budgets.

These budgets place a restriction on the total amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a five year period.

Five carbon budgets have been set in law covering the period 2008 to 2032, the fifth carbon budget equates to an average 57% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.

Clean Growth Strategy

The Government's Clean Growth Strategy 2017 led the way to a low carbon future and set out a range of policies and proposals to support and accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency in housing.

This includes the ambition to improve the energy performance of all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030, to develop a long-term trajectory to improve the energy performance standards of privately rented homes, with the aim of upgrading as many as possible to EPC band C by 2030 and consulting on how social housing can meet similar standards over this period.

UK Housing: Fit for the future: Committee for Climate Change review 2019

The Committee for Climate Change's 2019 report made clear the need for the UK to adapt and decarbonise its housing stock if it is to meet the legally binding carbon emission reduction targets and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The report identified:

  • energy use in homes accounts for about 14% of UK carbon emissions
  • emissions from housing need to be reduced by at least 24% by 2030 to meet current carbon reduction emission targets
  • current housing stock is not well adapted to meet the challenges of climate change and to meet target for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • we cannot meet our climate change objectives without major improvements to UK housing

To meet these challenges the committee identified the need for action in several key areas, including:

  • improvements in building performance and compliance - the need to close the performance gap between how homes are designed and how they perform
  • retrofitting existing homes- to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy and water efficiency
  • uplift in new build standards - so new homes are low-carbon and energy and water efficient


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