On 22 July the CBI, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, published a report on decarbonisation of heat. The report outlines the colossal challenge of decarbonising heat in the UK, what the challenge means for businesses, consumers and communities.
Heat accounts for over a third of UK carbon emissions and is the most difficult challenge we face en-route to net-zero by 2050. Heat is generated locally in homes and businesses, meaning that any transition requires over 20 million individual interventions that will need to be coordinated nationally, regionally and locally. This stands in contrast to recent success in decarbonising the power sector, which has relied on comparatively little consumer and business action. The CBI and University of Birmingham created a joint heat policy commission with industry leaders to discuss the potential solutions to this challenge.
The report provides thirteen recommendations that will help address this challenge. These recommendations include policy steps the government should take in the short, medium and long-term. The technological solutions that are currently available and the further innovation that will be needed going forward. The report also stresses the need for local and national coordination on heat policy through a National Delivery Body, which has yet to be achieved. The National Delivery Body would be an independent, impartial body that would work with the government on creating, coordinating and delivering an overarching national decarbonisation of heat programme.
The Commission’s recommendations aim to provide a platform that the government and businesses can build upon. The government’s recent announcements on energy efficiency, has been welcomed by business, however, increasing investment in the energy efficiency market must continue at a faster rate as this will be integral to the success of decarbonising heat.
The transition will not be easy and will undoubtably be disruptive to consumers and businesses. Many consumer homes and businesses are connected to the natural gas grid needing to install alternative low-carbon heating. The government, working with business will need to ensure that consumers are equipped with the right information to make informed decisions on the most appropriate low-carbon heating solution based on the region they are from and the type of building in which they reside.
As the government looks towards the next phase of its reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rebuild, it must ensure that it is a green recovery. The forthcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy is a prime opportunity for the government to show this and to show that it has listened to businesses on what they require in the transition to low-carbon heat.
Additionally, as the UK prepares to host the postponed COP26 climate summit, this will allow government and business to showcase to the world the low-carbon expertise the UK has, and the plan it is to reach net-zero.