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MPs' 10-point plan targets regulation of carbon markets

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A cross-party group of MPs has urged the government to improve UK home-energy efficiency and set up an Office for Carbon Removal among other measures as part of a broad set of plans to shore up the country’s net-zero efforts.

In a new 10-point plan, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Environment called for a tripling of the budget for the Energy Company Obligation, which mandates that energy suppliers must promote measures to improve the ability of low-income, fuel-poor and vulnerable households to heat their homes.

This includes actions that result in heating savings, such as the installation of insulation or the upgrade of an inefficient heating system. The APPG wants £3bn to be spent on the initiative rather than the £1bn currently allocated for the next three years.

This would allow another 2.1 million households to receive support with energy efficiency measures prior to a potentially dramatic rise in energy prices from next April following recent policy changes made by new chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The APPG also wants the government to create an Office for Carbon Removal, which would regulate the market for carbon offsetting, such as the use of trees for carbon sequestration, as well as other negative emissions sources like direct air carbon capture.

Last week, the Climate Change Committee found that companies were becoming too reliant on carbon offsets – some of which were described as “poor quality” – over making efforts to reduce their own emissions.

The newly created Office would ensure carbon credits are created to high standards and are trustworthy while overseeing the net-zero claims being made by businesses.

The plan also suggests cutting VAT on public electric vehicle (EV) charging from 20 per cent to 5 per cent in order to further encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.

The transport sector is responsible for nearly a third of the UK’s carbon emissions, with cars alone responsible for 61 per cent of this.

But the cost of running an EV has risen in recent months due to high wholesale energy prices, which have pushed up bills. This has brought the cost per mile of driving an EV closer to that of a petrol or diesel car.

The APPG said that the economics of driving an electric vehicle “must continue to be favourable” in order to attract more drivers to make the switch.

To make matters worse, the Department for Transport announced the closure of the grant scheme for electric cars in June, claiming that a “mature market” has already been created. This pushed the cost of purchasing a new EV to consumers.

The APPG report also called for a tripling of the floating offshore wind target, from 5GW by 2030 to 15GW by 2035, a restoration of 30 per cent of UK saltmarshes and seagrass meadows by 2030, and greater obligations on the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to purchase low-carbon energy.

Backing the energy efficiency plans, Labour MP Alan Whitehead said: “Expensive fossil fuels are leaving UK homes cold and destroying the planet.

“We need a retrofit revolution to permanently bring down energy bills and carbon emissions whilst creating jobs across the country.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who is vice-chairwoman of the APPG, said: “The UK has become one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

“If we are to halt and reverse the perilous decline in nature and destruction of wildlife, then the targets set under the Environment Act must not only be credible and comprehensive but, crucially, delivered.

“With the vitally important global summit of COP15 now just around the corner, this is our moment to protect and restore nature for generations to come.”

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