Technologies and plans need to be supported and funded, groups add

The construction industry needs the government to lay out how it expects its new carbon targets to be able to hit them, experts have warned.

Earlier today, it was revealed the government would legislate a new target to reduce national emissions by 78% compared to 1990 levels by 2035, including emissions from international shipping and aviation.

Sustainable construction plans

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Construction will need guidance to meet government targets, industry figures have said

Now industry experts have warned that without proper guidance in place it will be hard for the construction sector to play its part in the efforts.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC, said while the announcement represented the level of ambition the UK should be showing when it comes to tackling climate change more details are required.

She said: “A major shortcoming of previous government targets has been its inability to meet them. We’re currently on track to miss the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, meaning we urgently need the policies and practical solutions which will enable us to deliver on this commitment, not just dream about it.

“Before talking up his away game and acting like the UK is in a climate ‘super league’, the PM needs to start getting his home form in order, and ensure he’s not missing open goals.”

Sir John Armitt, National Infrastructure Commission chair, added: “[The] ambitious target provided an important signal of intent … [but the] government urgently needs to set out clear, funded plans to support delivery of the infrastructure needed to support the journey to net zero.”

He said: “The commission repeats its call for detailed polices, developed in partnership with industry, to deliver the necessary developments such as sufficient electric vehicle charging points, taking concrete steps to decarbonise the country’s heating supply, and schemes to significantly improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s homes.”

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Others homed in on the specific areas the government needed to focus on if the targets were to be achievable.

Arcadis’ Ben Harris, UK climate change & sustainability director, said there had to be a focus on the technical requirements to deliver on goals. “The Committee on Climate Change has set out the challenge to take advantage of the reduction in the costs of key technologies. We now need teams that can make every penny count, managing costs and delivering at the scale and speed needed to meet this challenge.”

And George Webb, chief executive of Liquid Gas UK, added: “The quickest and easiest way to meet these targets is to open up policy and the market to a range of energy solutions that fit all circumstances and offer choice and value to consumers.

“There is no bigger challenge and example of this than decarbonising the heating systems across the UK, especially in homes off the gas grid. The boxed in approach of heat pumps for all is unaffordable for millions of homeowners and will only drive resistance to the Net Zero goal.”

Webb said the failure of the Green Homes Grant was “proof that poorly run incentive schemes alone won’t get homeowners over the threshold to make the changes needed”.