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National decarbonisation plan expected by early 2017

The government has indicated that it will launch a national emissions reduction plan in early 2017, encompassing new policies for building energy use, renewable heat and transport.

The government has indicated that it will launch a national emissions reduction plan in early 2017, encompassing new policies for building energy use, renewable heat and transport.

The national ‘Carbon Plan’ was originally expected to be in place by the end of 2016, but has been pushed back due to delays following the European Referendum.

However, the government has provided an outline of its direction for travel in an official response to recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s independent advisory on climate change.

In June 2016 the CCC voiced concerns that new policies will be needed to sustain the UK’s current progress on emissions through the 2020s, particularly in heat and transport.

In its response, published in October, the government has outlined its key action areas for the coming years.

Energy efficiency

Regulations on building energy use will centre on the government’s overhaul of energy efficiency taxation, which was originally announced in the 2016 Spring Budget. 

A new taxation system will reduce complexity for businesses, and encourage cost-effective investment in energy efficiency and a move from gas towards electricity. The national roll out of smart meters is also expected to give small businesses better control of their energy use.

Additional measures to support businesses with reducing their energy consumption are also in consideration.

Renewable heat

Changes are also on the cards for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which provides a subsidy for eligible low carbon heating systems such as biomass and heat pumps.

Reforms set out in a consultation earlier in 2016 are still yet to be decided and will be announced as part of the wider plan in 2017.

Transport

On transport, the government has already announced its initial next steps for low emission vehicles. The plug-in grant scheme for electric vehicles will continue until at least March 2018, while new grant funding has also been unveiled for larger electric vans and trucks, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Additional measures to reduce emissions from HGV transport are currently being reviewed.

‘Important signal’

Nick Hurd, climate change and industry minister, said the forthcoming plan “will provide an important signal to the markets, businesses and investors, and help the private sector plan for the transition to a low carbon future.

“It will require transitions across all sectors of our economy, not least how we decarbonise power, transport and heat.”