Clean Growth & The Property Sector – The UK Government Responds To Climate Change

As this century approaches the end of its teens, the UK shows no sign of leaving behind its teenage angst. Recently we have had enough news alerts to fill a history book and the year shows no sign of slowing down. Matters that would be occupying the front pages of all major news outlets are being swept under the carpet by the next headline. Even this post may not be relevant by the time it is posted – although its content will certainly become unavoidable if its information is to be taken seriously.

Earlier this month, the Government published their responses to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) July 2019 report to Parliament on their ‘Progress in preparing for climate change’. Perhaps not scandalous enough to make headlines in recent weeks, their responses have wide reaching impacts in predicting future Governmental responses to climate change and how they will impact the developing and existing property sector.

Context

For context, the CCC was established in 2008 under the Climate Change Act and their role is to act as an independent advisor to the United Kingdom on tackling and preparing for climate change. Its committee includes, among others, engineers, a former secretary of state, behavioural science professors, climate change researchers and sustainability leaders.

Not only do the CCC provide reports to the Government on climate change, they also publish progress reports holding the UK to account concerning its progress towards decarbonisation.

Extinction Rebellion’s presence across many of the world’s major cities led to widespread understanding and awareness of the risks of further climate change and their remedies. Government responses are now becoming urgent as individuals are taking to the streets to demonstrate. According to the CCC, “climate change adaptation is a defining challenge for every Government, yet there is only limited evidence of the present UK Government taking it sufficiently seriously.”

CCC report findings

The CCC begins their report by highlighting the inadequacy of previous responses by the Government. In the building sector, the key buildings policy gaps in the CCC’s 2018 report “remain unaddressed or only partially met…Last June, we advised that 25 headline policy actions were needed for the year ahead. Twelve months later, only one has been delivered by Government in full. Ten of the actions have not shown even partial progress.” 

The CCC then demonstrate particularly vulnerable parts of the UK’s infrastructure, including overheating risks, poor air quality and the increasing urbanisation of towns and cities resulting in an increased flood risk as impermeable surfacing increases.

As well as existing vulnerabilities, the CCC highlight future risks, citing increased flood risks to residential properties – emphasising an increase from around 400,000 affected at present to over 2,000,000 in the 2080’s.

However, in other areas, progress has been commended. The Government have now committed to the publication of a Heat Roadmap in summer 2020 – due to result in a £16.5m demonstration project by the end of 2019. The Government also plans to review Building Regulations to reduce the overheating risk of homes as weather incidents and heatwaves increase, however, the CCC are concerned that this will not be implemented soon enough.

Government responses to CCC report

Amongst other things highlighted, the Government have stated that in the building sector they have made at least ten key achievements since last year, including:

  1. Committing to a Future Homes Standard which will future-proof new build homes with the highest standard of energy efficiency by 2025 – due to be implemented in 2020;
  2. Increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid to reduce dependence on fossil fuels;
  3. Launching initiatives to stimulate growth in innovation projects to encourage innovation in the so-called ‘green’ financial services sector;
  4. Committing to publishing a heat roadmap review; and
  5. As previously discussed, launching a Heat Network investment project.

CCC response

The CCC commented on the announcements in the Government’s response documents, stating:

“Delivering the UK’s net-zero economy demands bold and brave policy commitments – and there is still a lot to do… When it comes to preparing for the effects of climate change, the government’s approach continues to rest on the need for further research and guidance, instead of action; meanwhile, the country remains unprepared for even a 2 degree rise in global temperature. The UK’s role as a genuine climate leader now rests on tangible action – we will be watching next month’s budget closely.”

Government Responses To CCC Report

How can Nelsons help?

Nathan Wescott is a Solicitor in our expert Commercial Property team.

For further information on the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Nathan or another member of the team in DerbyLeicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.