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Scotland outperforms UK with energy efficiency policy

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Scotland has continued to outperform the rest of the UK in energy efficiency policy according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

However, the Scottish government has been called on to provide better processes of measuring progress in this area, particularly in the public sector as energy consumption data is currently not broken down to this level. This makes judging Holyrood’s progress towards a reduction of 12% by 2020 impossible to assess.

Despite this area of concern, the CCC’s latest report has concluded that although not reflected fully in emission reductions, energy efficiency in Scotland has performed better than England thanks to the nation’s “well developed” policy.

It shows that between 1990 and 2014, emissions from business and industrial processes fell 40% as Scotland moves towards a 2050 target of almost zero emissions from these sectors.

Despite the progress being made in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, the CCC report claims that take-up of a range of non-residential energy efficiency measures should be increased to reduce emissions. This includes energy and process management, improved equipment and insulation and material efficiency measures such as programmable thermostats, fabric measures and glazing.

It also points to a number of policy gaps in the UK government’s approach to energy efficiency, including a lack of support for larger energy efficiency projects and low-carbon heat post-2020.

Many of the efforts being made in Scotland were sparked by the adoption of energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority in June 2015. Since then, the Scottish government has launched a series of funded programmes designed to increase energy efficiency measures.

This includes the £14 million Energy Efficiency Programme to encourage businesses to work with local authorities to fund improvement measures. In addition, the Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland (HEEPS) loan scheme was extended to social landlords on 1 April.

New regulations have also been introduced requiring commercial building owners to outline measures to improve the energy performance and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions upon sale or leasing of their properties.

Similar rules are due to be introduced in the UK in 2018 however these will only require commercial properties to reach an EPC rating of E before they are able to be let and do not impact property sales.

The Westminster government has yet to offer energy efficiency support to non-domestic properties, with only the Energy Company Obligation scheme, soon to become Help to Heat, in place. The Energy Savings Obligation Scheme (ESOS) was intended to promote energy efficiency but did not require businesses to take any action on the outcome of energy audits required by the scheme.

As ESOS is an EU scheme, its future is also unclear following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, particularly with a second consultation on business energy efficiency tax reforms still awaiting publication. 

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