The below is a copy of the response I sent to constituents on solar energy in October 2022:
Thank you for contacting me about action to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings.
As you may be aware, policies relating to the energy efficiency of homes are devolved so you may wish to contact your MSP about this.
The Scottish Government agreed a new policy programme, which includes several actions to decarbonise buildings, and published a ‘Heat in Buildings Strategy for Scotland’ in October 2021. Aside from capturing headlines we are yet to see much action.
When it comes to capitalising on Scotland’s energy resources, for fifteen years, we have had an SNP Government that has chased the headlines but not done the work. The SNP promised a national energy company – now scrapped. They promised 130,000 green energy jobs and failed to deliver. They promised Scotland would be the Saudi Arabia of renewables, instead they’re selling off our assets on the cheap.
Labour however has committed to the creation of Great British Energy – a new publicly-owned energy generation company – in the first year of a Labour Government.
Alongside plans for a new National Wealth Fund and a commitment to clean power by 2030, GB Energy would be a new national champion in clean power generation, helping the UK to become an energy superpower and providing us with much needed security. It would harness the power of Britain’s sun, wind, and waves to deliver good, secure, high-paid British jobs, cut energy bills and deliver energy security for our country.
As part of our climate investment and clean energy plans, Labour have also committed to funding the carbon capture and storage Acorn project in Scotland – showing the commitment and difference a UK Labour Government would make for Scotland. Change is possible with Labour – with an ambitious plan to freeze energy bills, invest in energy security and create tens of thousands of high skilled, well-paid jobs here in Scotland.
At the next general election, the choice couldn’t be clearer. Only Labour can boot out the morally bankrupt and economically illiterate Tories and make Scotland a fairer, greener nation. While Labour will establish a public energy company in year one, after fifteen years of SNP Government, we’re told we still have to wait.
Buildings are the UK’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emission. Improving their energy efficiency, through low-carbon technology such as solar panels and heat pumps – and using materials to keep in heat – are essential to tackling the climate emergency.
Record-high energy prices and the commitment to move away from oil and gas make the case for improving the energy efficiency of buildings even stronger. Alongside reducing emissions, it will support good jobs in every region of the UK, enhance domestic supply and lower energy bills.
I am concerned, however, that the Government’s failure on renewables and on energy efficiency has left the UK vulnerable during the energy crisis. In 2015, it scrapped plans agreed in 2006 to make all new UK homes carbon neutral. Its Future Homes Standard has been criticised for lacking ambition and for taking away local authorities’ powers to demand greater energy efficiency. The Government’s own Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said the proposals do not go far enough.
Ministers said they have amended Building Regulations to require CO2 emissions from new build homes to be around 30% lower than current standards and 27% lower in other new buildings. Yet as the CCC points out, these targets can still be met without low-carbon heat, adding to the stock of boilers which will need to be retrofitted further down the line. The CCC concluded that these interim measures will not drive the sufficient changes needed in the new build sector.
We must be ambitious when it comes to reducing our energy consumption. I am pleased that the Opposition has set out a Five-Point Plan for Energy Security, with pledges to triple solar power and double onshore wind capacity by 2030; increase offshore wind capacity; and insulate 19 million homes within a decade to cut gas imports and reduce energy bills through the Warm Homes Plan.
In the wake of sky-rocketing global energy prices, I urge Ministers to ramp up efforts on home-grown renewable energy, improve the energy efficiency of new builds and insulate existing homes. We must build a clean, green, secure energy future that will improve the UK’s energy sovereignty and cut energy bills for families.