As the UK grapples with soaring energy prices and the looming winter season, the government has decided to disband its Energy Efficiency Taskforce, a group of policy and industry experts. This move has raised concerns among some MPs who fear that scaling back energy efficiency efforts now could worsen the energy price crisis.
The Energy Efficiency Taskforce, convened by the UK Government just months ago, was tasked with developing recommendations to improve energy efficiency in homes, public sector buildings, corporate buildings, and industry. Its goal was aligned with the government target to reduce absolute energy use by 15% by 2035.
Why has the taskforce been disbanded?
The BBC revealed that, despite the important work that the taskforce is doing, their work will now be “streamlined” into other government-led initiatives. A spokesperson for the Energy Security and Net Zero department said: “We would like to thank the Energy Efficiency Taskforce for its work… We have invested £6.6bn in energy efficiency upgrades this Parliament and will continue to support families in making their homes more efficient, helping them to cut bills while also achieving net zero in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way.”
Despite this, there is still doubt rippling throughout the industry. Coupled with Rishi Sunak’s rollback on EV and heat pump transition deadlines, many MPs have raised fears about how the government will achieve its net zero targets.
A member of the taskforce and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys said she was “disappointed” by the decision to dissolve it and “confused” about the government’s objectives regarding the cost of living.
Other industry leaders are speaking up in confusion and dismay, including Natural England chairman Tony Juniper. “For decades it has been clear that the simplest no regrets step for cutting emissions is energy efficiency. It is also the policy that can most quickly help hard-pressed people on low incomes. I find, therefore, this to be a very surprising decision.”
How will this impact clean energy investment and net zero goals?
While Rishi Sunak has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to meeting the UK’s 2050 net zero target, we are waiting to see evidence of plans that will support this deadline. At the start of September, a major group of investors overseeing £1.5trn in assets called upon Mr Sunak to provide clear, long-term policies for the transition to a net-zero economy.
Backtracking on green policies and disbanding the energy efficiency taskforce could influence investor decisions. This space is one to watch, particularly with the upcoming autumn budget, which we will be covering on the Hub.