UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has announced a major U-turn on the UK’s “net zero” policies.  This amounts to 3 key policy changes:

  • Electric vehicles – 3 years after announcing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, the ban has been delayed to 2035;
  • New exceptions to ban on sale of new domestic gas boilers from 2035 – although the ban on the sale of new gas boilers from 2035 remains, new exceptions will be introduced to help poorer households, although the details are to follow.  The sale of oil, LPG and coal boilers for off-grid homes is to be delayed to 2035;
  • Tougher EPC requirements to be scrapped – from 2025, no residential property was to be let unless it achieved a “C” rating for energy efficiency.  This has been scrapped.  Mr Sunak said that this could have led to a requirement to invest around £8,000 per property.  No announcements were made regarding commercial properties.

The changes have met with a mixed response, with some commentators highly critical of Mr Sunak’s U-turn, warning that introducing uncertainty could severely undermine investor confidence in the UK.

Separately, research carried out by The Guardian and Corporate Accountability suggests that the “majority of [carbon] offset projects” are “likely junk”, with as many as 78% of projects worthless due to one or more failings that undermine promised emission cuts.

Finally, in some fascinating new research published by Grantham Research Institute an assessment has been made of how the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has been enforced.  Whilst the authors found generally high levels of compliance, this occurred alongside low rates of enforcement – a pattern known as the “Harrington Paradox”.  The report sets out to square this circle and looks at the effectiveness of enforcement strategies other than fines, such as “naming and shaming”.