This month we’re reporting that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a sweeping set of Departmental shakeups to welcome in 2023. BEIS is dismantled, in its place comes a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, tasked with securing UK long term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation.

Government says the move recognises the significant impact rising prices have had on households across the country as a result of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, and the need to secure more energy from domestic nuclear and renewable sources as we seize the opportunities of Net Zero.

The response has been mixed; some commentators argue the moves were promised previously by Sunak and could represent a welcome embracing of arguments made within the Net Zero review, due for implementation soon.

Two further new Departments, for Business and Trade plus Science and Innovation are also coming. The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology will drive innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy.

A combined Department for Business and Trade will support growth by backing British businesses at home and abroad, promoting investment and championing free trade.

Lighting  consultation

EDIE writes the Government has announced the launch of a consultation on new energy-efficient lighting. Under the proposals, lighting in domestic and non-domestic buildings in England, Scotland and Wales would need to meet minimum energy performance standards to reduce emissions and save on energy costs.

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: “Putin’s warmongering in Ukraine means everyone is feeling the effect of higher energy bills this winter, but these new standards can help lighten the load by ensuring British homes and businesses are lit as efficiently as possible.

“As we’ve shown in the government’s energy saving campaign, small changes, like switching to more efficient light bulbs, can add up to big savings. By going further with these regulations than either the US or EU, British homes, factories and offices will have some of the cheapest and greenest lighting in the world, helping keep down bills and reducing energy usage.”

Businesses can get involved in the consultation here. Energys Group Managing Director Kevin Cox commented: “Ecodesign in lighting is such a simple efficiency win. We welcome this consultation. As it explains; ‘Lighting accounts for a significant portion of electricity use in buildings in both the non-domestic and domestic sectors.

“’Global innovation in lighting technology in recent years has made it possible to achieve greater energy savings which, in turn, can reduce the overall amount of electricity required for lighting.’ These are the wins we can and must hasten.”

To offset or not

In response to growing calls for guidance from its members, UKGBC is embarking on a new project to seek greater clarity on carbon offsetting and pricing.

The issue is that uncertainty on the true environmental metrics and risks of offsetting can divert attention from strategies that include elements like efficiency; categorically proven to cut carbon.

UKGBC writes that while recognising that designing for reductions in whole life carbon and improvements in energy efficiency are the most important steps to prioritise in decarbonising buildings, responsibly offsetting residual emissions remains a critical component of achieving Net Zero.

However, when used irresponsibly, carbon offsets can increase exposure to greenwashing and result in detrimental impacts on climate action.

UKGBC is taking expressions of interest from potential working group members over the next few weeks. The deadline is Tuesday 21 February 2023.

And finally… The Net Zero review

Finally, Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero review landed last month. It contains a number of interesting ideas, including reviewing incentives for investment in decarbonisation, including via the tax system, and launching a Help to Grow Green campaign offering information and advice to small businesses so they can plan ahead. Efficiency could win out here.

Energy efficiency gets a complete chapter, 3.4. In it are notes that the broader energy efficiency mission is not a complete package unless non-domestic buildings are considered, plus calls for direct funding measures for both SMEs and large companies or those in large buildings (and their landlords where applicable) or projects that are innovative in the short term.

Mr Skidmore, most welcomely, writes Government can lead by example by investing in the energy efficiency of the public estate, galvanising local and national government efforts, and reducing energy demand.

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