Government response to heatwave criticised

Staff
By Staff
4 Min Read

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has labelled the government’s response to their report on Heat Resilience and Sustainable Cooling as a “missed opportunity,” emphasising the need for more detailed plans to adapt the UK to climate change.

The committee’s report highlighted the potential rise in heat-related deaths to 10,000 per year without significant actions to adapt to a warming climate.

It also noted that while the UK population spends the majority of its time indoors, many homes are not designed to cope with excessive heat, leading to summertime overheating in millions of UK households.

In response, the committee recommended launching a comprehensive national retrofit program to adapt UK homes for net zero demands, to be delivered via local authorities with long-term funding and a focus on vulnerable households.

However, the government’s response falls short of committing to such a programme on this scale, citing existing actions outlined in the Heat and Buildings Strategy published in 2021.

The committee also urged the extension of building regulations covering overheating to refurbishments of existing properties, but the government has not confirmed plans to do so.

Instead, ministers plan to use a call for evidence to understand potential issues with existing regulations and determine future updates.

Furthermore, the committee recommended prioritising nature-based solutions to climate change in urban areas, such as trees and parks, which have cooling effects.

However, the government has not committed to mandating local authorities to use the Green Infrastructure Framework, as recommended by the committee.

EAC Chair Philip Dunne said: “Extreme heat is already affecting health and livelihoods in the UK. While there is much to welcome in this response, there are still serious unanswered questions about how the government plans to respond to a rapidly warming UK climate.

“This is frankly a missed opportunity.”

A government spokesperson told Energy Live News: “We have set out a robust five-year plan to respond to the impacts of a changing climate and strengthen our national resilience – with action to improve infrastructure, promote a greener economy and safeguard food production.

“We are the first major economy to halve our emissions and have already taken steps to manage the risks of climate change, including committing to minimise overheating in the Heat and Building Strategy and bringing in a new warning systems to alert the public to heatwaves. 

“In addition, homes built to the new Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero-carbon ready’, meaning no further work will be needed as the electricity grid decarbonises.”

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