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Wed July 08 2020

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Committee on Climate Change calls for construction decarbonisation strategy

25 Jun The Committee on Climate Change has recommended a national programme of building renovation as part of a wider plan to reduce the environmental harm of the built environment.

In what sounds very much like a call for the revival of the old Green Deal, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) wants a national plan to bring old buildings up to modern energy-efficiency standards.

“Low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future” is one of five recommendations in the CCC’s annual report to parliament1. It also recommends planting trees, building hydrogen and carbon capture & storage (CCS) infrastructure, more footpaths and cycle lanes, and more recycling.

The CCC wants the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to publish a  “construction decarbonisation strategy” and do more to promote zero-emission construction machinery. It recommends that it “set out a clear plan to develop near-zero emission non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) for applications where these are not yet available and increase deployment for NRMM applications where options are already available”.

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Among a raft of other recommendations are that BEIS also “produce an ambitious buildings and heat strategy to eliminate emissions from buildings through a clear direction for the next 30 years backed by standards, funding to make low-carbon heat pay, enabling measures (i.e. skills and green passports) and actions to drive immediate progress”.

CCC chairman Lord Deben (former agriculture secretary John Gummer) said: “The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation. Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together; it’s there for the taking. The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience. Choices that lock in emissions or climate risks are unacceptable.”

Chair of the CCC’s adaptation committee, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, said: “Covid-19 has shown that planning for systemic risks is unavoidable. We have warned repeatedly that the UK is poorly prepared for the very serious impacts of climate change, including flooding, overheating and water shortages. Now is the moment to get our house in order, coordinate national planning, and prepare for the inevitable changes ahead. The UK’s domestic ambition can be the basis for strong international climate leadership, but the delivery of effective new policies must accelerate dramatically if we’re to seize this chance.”

1. Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament

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