In April this year, the First Minister declared a global climate emergency – calling for action from Scotland and the world – and committed Scotland to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, in line with the UK committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommendations.
And a new Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 has just been passed by the Scottish Parliament. Parliament has set in law very ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requiring Scotland to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, with 75% reductions by 2030 and 90% reductions by 2040.
The Scottish Parliament also passed the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy)(Scotland) Act 2019 which set a target, in law, of no more than 5% of Scottish households being in fuel poverty by 2040 and includes challenging interim targets.
Meeting these ambitious targets will demand an increased focus and a faster pace of action right across society.
But we are not starting from scratch.
Improving the energy efficiency of Scotland's buildings has been a national infrastructure priority since 2015. In May 2018, Scottish Ministers published a Route Map to an Energy Efficient Scotland, setting out a pathway to 2040 to make our buildings warmer, greener and more energy efficient. The aims of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme are to make sure that poor energy efficiency in homes is no longer a driver of fuel poverty, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more energy efficient buildings and decarbonising our heat supply.
In Protecting Scotland's Future: the Government's Programme for Scotland 2019-2020 we reaffirmed our commitment to energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation, setting out plans to ensure that from 2024, newly-built homes use only renewable or low carbon heating systems, rather than fossil fuel boilers.
The Scottish Government's substantial investment to date in energy efficiency has seen significant improvements in buildings in Scotland, in homes, businesses and public sector buildings. As well as directly funding energy efficiency programmes (described in Part 2 of this consultation), we have made progress towards setting standards and regulating for improvement across domestic and non-domestic buildings. For homes, legally binding standards are already in progress in both social rented (council and housing association homes) and privately rented homes.
In this consultation, we focus on action in the owner-occupied housing sector. In our consultation earlier this year on the potential to accelerate Energy Efficient Scotland, and again in our 2019 Programme for Government we committed to publishing a more detailed consultation on proposals for encouraging and requiring action in owner-occupied housing. This document is the owner-occupied housing consultation.
Overall, emissions from the Scottish residential sector totalled 6 MTCO2 in 2017, equivalent to 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland (greenhouse gas inventory). Currently, 62% of homes in Scotland are owner-occupied. Improving energy efficiency in owner occupier dwellings will therefore play a significant role in reducing emissions in the residential sector, as well as in the energy sector through reduced use of electricity.
Of those 62% of homes in Scotland that are owner-occupied, only 38% have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or above. However, the situation has improved in recent years. Figure 1 shows that owner-occupied homes at EPC C and above has risen steadily since 2014. In 2017, there were 560,000 properties at EPC C and above, compared to 420,000 at EPC C and above in 2014.
Figure 1: Barchart showing the number of homes with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of below C (blue) and above C (orange) from 2014 – 2017 (Scottish House Condition Survey).
There is still progress to be made and improving energy efficiency and reducing the demand for heat in owner occupied homes will continue to play an important role in helping to achieve our climate change targets. Beyond EPC band C, with only 2% of Scottish owner occupied housing at EPC bands B, there is significant potential for improvements right across the owner-occupied housing sector.
Also, fuel poverty remains an issue. In 2017, 18% (150,000) of homes owned outright and 8% (56,000) of mortgaged homes were in fuel poverty.
This consultation outlines proposals to tackle these issues. We set out our proposals for an energy efficiency standard for owner-occupied homes to reach, and suggest that it should be legally binding. We also set out how homeowners can be helped and supported to bring their homes up to the standard.
In doing so, we believe there are many benefits for homeowners themselves and for society as a whole. Taking action to reduce our energy demand and use greener energy sources can help to make bills more affordable and our homes more comfortable, improve health and wellbeing for our children and for more vulnerable Scots, make a positive contribution to the Scottish economy, and crucially, help Scotland end its contribution to climate change.
In this consultation, we ask for your views and guidance on our proposals to introduce a binding standard on homeowners, and to support them to meet it.
- In part 1 you will be asked about the mandatory standard we are proposing and how it will be applied.
- In part 2 we will seek your views on the support mechanisms that are available to help home owners achieve that standard.
- In the Annexes, we give further detail on some of the key points discussed in this consultation document.
Following the consultation, we will analyse the responses received. Your feedback will inform further development of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme, and especially inform the next steps for action in owner-occupied housing.
We aim to publish an update to the Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map in the first half of 2020, following and reflecting the ambitions and pathway set out in Scotland's updated Climate Change Plan which is due to be published by the end of April 2020.