Net Zero

21 SEP 2023


Construction industry leaders have raised serious concerns following the prime minister’s announcement on the country’s net zero ambitions. 

Yesterday Rishi Sunak said government was now taking a more “pragmatic” and “realistic” path to reach net zero by 2050.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) say the prime minister’s announcement has caused “serious concerns and uncertainty” for the industry and its members.

While the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) says “anger and frustration” has reverberated across industry.

The government’s revised plans include:

  • Delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035.
  • New policies forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties to be scrapped. 
  • Delaying the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026.
  • Setting an exemption to the phase-out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to make the switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives won’t have to do so.
  • Raising the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50% to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative like a heat pump.

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of both ACE and EIC, said: “The announcements that were made have caused serious concerns and uncertainty for the industry and our members.

“Announcement of decisions in the coming months, but without clarity on what these will entail, only adds to that uncertainty. The promise of further environmental reforms must not hinder innovation.

“The ACE Group stresses the urgency of streamlining infrastructure projects in order to support the transition. Delays not only frustrate our members, but also the wider public.

“Confidence from investors and companies is crucial for success. Strong leadership is absolutely critical to delivering the emissions reductions needed.

“The ACE Group remains committed to advocating for the necessary measures and projects needed in our journey to net zero.”

Simon McWhirter, UKGBC’s deputy chief executive, added: “The anger and frustration at this latest policy U-turn has reverberated across industry. Delaying green policies just means they’ll have to be implemented much faster, later, pushing up the cost for everyone – householders and businesses alike. 

“The prime minister’s change in approach will also have a chilling effect on investment and skills training across green industries as they’re faced with yet another pull on the policy handbrake, just as our members and wider business were scaling up their pro-green activities across the economy.

“To really tackle this problem, the best way to bring down costs for households is to insulate homes, but the prime minister pulled the plug on measures to ensure landlords upgrade the draughty homes of renters – the group most affected by fuel poverty. 

“Apart from an increase in the heat pump grant, no other measures were announced to incentivise and help households to insulate and make the transition from fossil fuel heating. 

“We’re awaiting the long-overdue national strategy to upgrade all of our homes and buildings. But all we’ve had today is a further erosion of commitment and clarity from government.”

The prime minister vowed take forward a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic path to reach net zero by 2050, reducing costs on British families while still meeting international commitments.

He said plans to meet net zero will only succeed if public support is maintained.

“This country is proud to be a world leader in reaching net zero by 2050. But we simply won’t achieve it unless we change,” he said. 

“We’ll now have a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach that eases the burdens on families.

“All while doubling down on the new green industries of the future. In a democracy, that’s the only realistic path to net zero. We are going to change the way our politics works. We are going to make different decisions. We will not take the easy way out.

“There will be resistance – and we will meet it. Because I am determined to change our country and build a better future for our children. Nothing less is acceptable.”


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