Homes: The Sixth Carbon Budget

CLA Housing Adviser Hermione Warmington reflects on the key aspects in the newly-published Sixth Carbon Budget

On 9 December, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published their Sixth Carbon Budget (2033-2037), which can be found here. This proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings to zero by 2050 at the latest. In 2019, direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings accounted for 17% of UK GHG emissions. Reducing this to zero, within 30 years, is important albeit incredibly ambitious.

The reduction in emissions will be achieved through energy efficiency measures, low-carbon heating and consumer behaviour.  

The budget proposes for private rented and social homes to reach EPC band C by 2028, and for owner-occupied homes to reach EPC band C from 2028 at the point of sale or by 2033 if mortgaged

The CLA has long been calling for a fundamental review of the EPC assessment methodology so that is accurately measures the thermal capacity of older buildings, particularly solid walls and for the metric to be changed from fuel cost to carbon cost. Until this happens, many rural homes will not be able to reach EPC band C, irrespective of the level of investment. 

The budget does acknowledge the urgent need to improve EPCs, with a range of improvements set out in the recent EPC action plan which can be found here, but it does not go anywhere near far enough. The report also picks up on the uncertainty around solid wall insulation, particularly the cost effectiveness of such a measure and the levels of public support, but continues to promote its use throughout its modelling.

The budget proposes to phase out oil boilers from 2028 and gas boilers from 2033

The report briefly touches upon the difficulty to decarbonise off-gas grid homes and suggests for a portion of hard-to-decarbonise homes, hybrid solutions and cascading heat pumps will be more cost effective than extensive efficiency upgrades with a large single heat pump.

Targeted support and funding, above and beyond the existing Green Homes Grant, must be made available to rural landlords to enable the effective phasing out of oil boilers, which currently heat nearly half of all rural homes.

For more information on our key concerns with Energy Performance Certificates and the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, please find a briefing note here.