First, I acknowledge the hard work on the bill by our clerks and researchers, as well as all the constituents and organisations who have contributed. I also thank members who have worked across party lines to strengthen the bill in respect of our shared goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. We are all committed to protecting our planet for future generations.
As members will know, I have been a strong advocate in Parliament of improving residential homes’ energy efficiency to EPC rating C or above by 2030. In addition to wining a debate on the matter with cross-party support, I lodged stage 2 amendments to similar effect. I am glad to see that despite the SNP having opposed it for the past two years, our position has been adopted in the programme for government. The Scottish Conservatives have backed the proposal by committing 10 per cent of capital spending to energy efficiency.
I was delighted to support the Green amendment to reduce emissions from housing, and requires the climate change plan to set out what measures Scottish ministers propose to ensure that emissions from housing are reduced, and that housing achieves EPC rating C or above, when that is practicable. I refer members to my register of interests in relation to renewable energy and housing.
I also add my particular thanks to the Existing Homes Alliance, which has worked on finding ways to achieve the target. In its report last month, the alliance touched on some of the many benefits of the approach. They include: reducing carbon emissions and fuel poverty; reducing household energy bills by more than £400 a year; creating economic growth, with every £1 of investment giving a return of £5 in gross domestic product; creating more than 6,000 new jobs because we need to double the current rate of upgrades to 200 per day; and tackling the costs of poor housing to health and wellbeing, which costs us up to £80 million a year.
The report also sets out many policies and programmes that would ensure that we find a successful pathway to zero carbon by 2045. I was particular interested to read the five recommendations for programme development, delivery and support for a zero carbon future. The Scottish Conservatives are strong advocates of devolution of powers: we believe that delegation and distribution of powers are important to ensure maximum success. Therefore, we welcome the first recommendation, which is to
“Extend the local authority-led area-based programmes to deliver both energy efficiency and heat measures.”
As the report states,
“Procurement should prioritise community benefit and local economic development”,
so introducing a programme to
“incentivise deep renovation where appropriate” is important.
The Scottish Conservatives believe that actions to limit global warming will have a higher probability of success if they create jobs and support innovation. Therefore, we welcome the suggestion about increasing support for self-funding households by expanding the energy efficient Scotland pilots, which will
“deliver community engagement, develop local supply chains, and ensure quality control combined with the availability of loan finance.”
Therefore, we must work with the supply chain to provide support in training and skills development in order to address gaps in certain trades and geographic areas.
The move to a zero carbon future is one that all of society must work towards in a co-ordinated effort. I look forward to working with the energy sector to make that a reality.