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Local government and the path to net zero: new inquiry

16 March 2021

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine the UK's strategy for meeting the 2050 'net zero' target at a local level.

Scope of the inquiry

The UK Government has committed to a target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

It intends to achieve this through a combination of cutting the levels of green house gasses emitted and developing schemes to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

The Prime Minister set out a ten point plan for achieving the target in November 2010.

New measures announced included changing building regulations to ensure new homes are "zero carbon ready", improving energy efficiency when built and removing the need for expensive retrofitting in the future.

The Government also plans to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 to improve energy efficiency. However concerns have been raised about the cost of such a proposal.

Local governments are responsible for a range of areas that could also play a key role in the UK's efforts to reach the net zero target. This includes local transport, recycling and waste disposal.

The new inquiry will examine if the Government's proposals for establishing planning guidelines and building regulations to reduce the UK's household emissions.

It will examine if the current emphasis on heat pumps as a long-term solution to increase energy and ask if other options may prove more viable.

The Committee will also investigate what other, non-domestic, measures local government can take to contribute to the UK's emissions reduction targets.

Chair's comments

Launching the new inquiry, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee Clive Betts MP said:

"The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee was one of the six parliamentary select committees that commissioned the citizens' Climate Assembly.

"Their findings demonstrated a strong appetite from people across the UK for tackling the causes of climate change, and making lasting changes to our day-to-day lives that will help achieve this.

"Given 15% of current greenhouse emissions are caused come from heating and powering homes, how the Government develops strategy in this area will make a significant impact on realising the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

"We have launched this new inquiry to see if the government proposals move quickly enough and if its strategy will make the changes necessary to make new and existing homes carbon neutral.

"We will also look more broadly at the policies within the remit of local government that will need to change to reduce or mitigate greenhouse emissions."

Terms of reference

New homes: the Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standards

  • Do the government's proposals for improving the energy efficiency of new homes by 2025 go far enough?
  • The government has acknowledged the need to clarify the role of local planning authorities in setting energy efficiency requirements for new homes that go beyond the minimum standards. What role should LPAs play in determining local energy efficiency standards?
  • Is the government right to anticipate that heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes?
  • Will the proposals address the performance gap between design intent and build quality of new homes?
  • Is the government right to introduce revised transitional arrangements?

In addition, the Committee seeks evidence on any other issues relating to either the Future Homes Standard or the Future Buildings Standards.

Existing homes

The Committee also seeks evidence on plans for improving the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock, including:

  • Local authorities’ progress towards reducing or eliminating the carbon footprint of their own building estate.
  • The role of local authorities in improving the energy efficiency of non-council building stock, including through take-up of the Local Authority Delivery scheme and the setting and enforcing of energy efficiency standards. 
  • The role of local authorities in encouraging and enabling private owners to reduce or eliminate their carbon emissions, including through the development of loan schemes similar to the green deal and the delivery of existing grants, such as the Disabled Facilities Grant and Housing Renewal Assistance. 
  • The role of MHCLG in making the existing housing stock more energy efficient, including through its review of the Decent Homes Standard.

Local government’s path to net zero

The Committee also seeks submissions on how else local government help the UK achieve "net zero" emissions by 2050, particularly in relation to improved and decarbonised public transport, waste management and decarbonising the electricity grid.

Submit evidence

The Committee welcomes evidence on the questions set out in the terms of reference.

You can find out more about how to give evidence by visiting the inquiry page.

If you have direct experience of the issues we investigate we would love to hear from you.

The deadline for submissions is 30 April 2021.

Accessibility

We want our inquiries to be informed by a diverse range of voices.

Our committee team are happy to help if you require a reasonable adjustment, such as an extension to the deadline, or submitting evidence in an alternative format.

Please get in touch at hclgcom@parliament.uk or 020 7219 5364.

Further information

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