New cross-party inquiry looking at methods to curb UK demand for fossil fuels will look at the impacts of introducing energy saving measures in homes for the efficient heating of buildings

The effectiveness of measures to improve the energy efficiency of UK buildings to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels will be reviewed as part of a new parliamentary inquiry.

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee is calling for evidence and feedback on how the UK can better reduce its overall reliance on oil and gas. This will include looking at how homes and buildings can be heated at a lower cost in line with national plans to move away from fossil fuel heating over the next two decades.

A surge in the global cost of fuel, a pattern which is expected to continue through 2022 amidst global supply chain uncertainty and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is expected to make the cost of sufficiently heating buildings increasingly unaffordable for millions of UK homes.  This has prompted calls from industry bodies and environmental experts in recent months for an expanded government focus on incentivising efficiency improvements in the existing building stock and increased adoption of lower carbon heat systems.

MP Philip Dunne, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said the new inquiry was being launched ahead of the publication of the government’s own Energy Security Strategy that is expected to be released this year.

Mr Dunne said the committee would be researching how the government can best support a national switch to zero carbon buildings, while also protecting households from the increasing cost of fuel.

The success of any UK Energy Security Strategy will be vital to protect homes – especially lower income households – from the rising costs of fossil fuels without undermining ambitions to have fully reduced or offset carbon emissions across the UK by 2050, Mr Dunne added.

He said, “How much of the UK’s oil and gas reserves can be exploited while limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 deg C in line with the Paris Agreement? Can we make better use of resources in the North Sea for our own domestic energy supplies to reduce reliance on imports? “

“Should the government continue to provide tax breaks or financial support to the fossil fuel industry? Can we turbocharge renewable energy installations and energy efficiency improvements to power and heat homes affordably?”

Mr Dunne said, “We will be exploring these questions, and many others, as we dive into this issue.”

The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry was announced to coincide with an increase in the UK’s energy price cap threshold that comes into effect from today.  Energy market regulator Ofgem announced the changes in February as a result of significant increases in the global price of gas.

The National Energy Action (NEA) campaign group estimates that 22 million homes across the UK are expected to see an increase to their annual energy bills by around £700.  This is a rise of more than 50 per cent.

These increases are expected to dramatically expand fuel poverty levels across the UK without stronger intervention from government to support households with increased costs or materials improvements in their homes, the charity claimed.

NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said, “This is the biggest energy price shock in living memory. Millions of people will be priced out of adequate levels of heating and power. For all the anticipation of these price rises, many people on the lowest incomes will be crushed by the reality.”


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