Consultation to improve MEES

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a consultation to seek views on proposed targets for the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES). Currently MEES make it unlawful to grant new leases to properties with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of F and G.

The Government’s options

The Government has identified two potential trajectories for strengthening the PRS (Private Rented Sector) Regulations. These aim to unlock the economic opportunities of low carbon growth, and deliver important energy and carbon savings:

  • The Government’s preferred route is that all non-domestic privately rented buildings achieve a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard of a B rating, by 1 April 2030. This is provided the measure (or package of measures) required to reach an EPC ‘B’ proves cost effective.
  • The alternative option is that all non-domestic privately rented buildings reach a ‘C’ rating by 1 April 2030, if cost effective.

In both cases, the Government recognises that not all buildings will be able to reach the required minimum standard. In this instance the Government proposes that landlords can continue to lease their building (from 2030) providing they can prove that the building has reached the highest EPC band that a cost-effective package of measures can deliver.

The impacts

BEIS estimates that using the ‘B’ rating EPC route, an investment of approximately £5 billion up to 2030 is required. The estimated average payback time would be 4-5 years. Their modelling suggests this will translate to £1 billion in bill savings for business in 2030. This would deliver an overall value of £6.1 billion to the UK economy. The annual benefit to businesses by using this option is projected to be approximately double that of the ‘C’ rating EPC.

Regardless of the option chosen, BEIS proposes that existing exemptions will continue to apply. This means that landlords will be required to carry out upgrades that are cost-effective, with an expected payback on energy savings of seven years or less. If the work cannot meet this criteria then landlords are able to register an exemption, valid for five years.

The proposed timescale

The Government has asked whether a single implementation date of 2030 is appropriate for landlords to meet the determined rating. As an alternative it has been suggested that incremental targets leading up to 2030 could be introduced. This would encourage landlords to improve the EPC rating of their buildings over time.

The consultation is expected to close on 7 January 2020.

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Net Zero UK

The action will require the UK to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to nothing over the next 30 years. This is a more ambitious target than the previous, which was at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

The decision follows the Net Zero report, by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which was commissioned by the government to reassess the UK’s long-term emissions targets. The report recommended the 2050 net zero target for the UK, while issuing a 2045 target for Scotland and a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 for Wales.

Representatives of the Scottish and Welsh governments have already announced intentions for the nations to aim for these targets, with the Welsh government aiming to go further than the CCC advice; targeting net zero emissions no later than 2050.

Is this achievable?

The report by the Committee on Climate Change states that the net zero target is possible with known technologies, alongside behavioral and societal changes in people’s lives. The organisation has forecast that that the target is also within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when legislating the previous 2050 target under the Paris Agreement.

The report does come with the caveat that net zero is only possible if clear, sensible and well-designed policies to enable reductions in emissions are introduced across the country in a strict timeline. The CCC highlights that current policy would not meet even the previous target.

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