‘Baffling’: construction reaction to Sunak’s net zero U-turn

Sunak net zero
Prime minister Rishi Sunak (image: Dreamstime).

The construction industry has reacted with disappointment and confusion to prime minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the government will delay implementation of many net-zero policies.

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, research and public affairs, CIOB

“Decarbonising homes and the wider built environment is vital to reach net zero so it’s disappointing to hear the prime minister scaling back energy efficiency targets and the commitments made in the government’s own net-zero growth plan published only six months ago, which refers to minimising reliance on fossil fuels.

“Energy consumption in buildings accounts for almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions so to deprioritise this issue is baffling when the government should instead be finding ways to support homeowners to retrofit their properties and improve their energy efficiency for the lowest possible cost.

Suneeta Johal, CEO, Construction Equipment Association

“Our members have poured millions into research and development, striving to be at the forefront of sustainable innovation.”

Suneeta Johal, Construction Equipment Association

“The Boiler Upgrade Scheme has had very low take-up and, in our view, increasing the grant available to homeowners will make little difference, as the remaining 25% will still be unaffordable for many households amidst a cost of living crisis.

“If government remains committed to reaching net zero by 2050, as they say they are, then they must set out how they plan to achieve this without reducing the reliance on carbon-based fuels to heat homes on the scale and at the pace required.”

Muyiwa Oki, president, RIBA

“The built environment is the UK’s second-highest carbon-emitting sector. Despite concerted effort from architects, and our partners across the built environment, today’s announcement signals that the government has no real intention to lead the charge towards net zero – and it is generations to come who will pay the heavy price.  

“Millions of people in the UK are living in draughty, damp homes that are leaking energy and money. Today’s announcement reverses the little policy progress the government has made in upgrading our ageing and inefficient housing stock. Without consistent government signal, support and investment, our homes will remain the least efficient in Europe for years and decades to come.

“It’s time for leadership and ambition.”

Suneeta Johal, chief executive, Construction Equipment Association

“In recent years, the construction equipment sector has taken significant leaps in embracing alternative fuels and pioneering electric machinery. Our prevailing agenda revolves around decarbonisation, with a clear vision directed toward achieving net-zero emissions. Members of the CEA have collectively poured millions into research and development, striving to be at the forefront of sustainable innovation.

“It’s both disheartening and frustrating when, after such substantial investment and progress, the metaphorical goalposts seem to shift, making it challenging for our members to plan and execute their long-term strategies with confidence.

“Such announcements create ambiguity in the construction equipment industry, especially in its endeavours to phase out diesel and transition to alternative energy sources. Every industry, including the construction equipment rental sector, holds a pivotal position in the transition to a greener future.

“Regrettably, the prime minister’s remarks don’t facilitate this mission and instill further uncertainty about future investments and the green transition for upcoming construction equipment fleets.”

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