Energy and climate policies: Getting the best from Brexit

18 Feb Energy and climate policies: Getting the best from Brexit

Last week, a range of experts gave their views on what should be the energy and climate priorities in forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

Among those presenting to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee was Energy Saving Trust chief executive, Philip Sellwood (pictured), who laid out the risks and opportunities around energy efficiency and renewables.

Philip Sellwood, CEO of Energy Saving Trust

Watch the recorded clip from the Parliamentlive.tv stream

Policy rollbacks can’t continue

In the background to these considerations is an overarching issue: where historically, the UK has tended to exceed EU energy and climate change policy requirements easily, recent UK sustainable energy policy rollbacks such as the end of the Green Deal and reduced support for renewable energy mean that this is no longer the case.

This makes it even more imperative to get things right as Britain’s relationship with Europe is redefined.

EU positives should be retained

There is plenty from current European directives worth keeping.

First and foremost, the UK must look to take forward proposals in the European Commission’s recent Winter Package, which offers a number of forward-thinking recommendations that would help the UK remain a leader in the low carbon field, if incorporated into policy.

“The single biggest priority is not to miss the opportunity […] to take a strong ownership of energy efficiency as the first principle.” .Philip Sellwood, CEO, Energy Saving Trust

It represents the next step in energy policy to 2030, and based on the principle of ‘Energy Efficiency First’, the idea that “the cheapest energy, the cleanest energy, the most secure energy is the energy that is not used at all”.

To back these words up, a 30 per cent efficiency target for 2030 is introduced, as well as explicitly recognising the right for community energy groups and individuals to feed any excess energy they produce back into the grid and be paid for it at market value. Both things we’d strongly agree with.

Eco design – Europe’s hidden gem

EU product standards have been a particular success story, albeit one not particularity widely known about. Eco design has been effectively implemented and has achieved significant savings – for every £1 spent there’s £3.80 of benefit, with households saving €490 a year on their energy bills.

“…every £1 that is invested in energy efficiency, or at least product appliance regulation, is generating about £4 return. In real terms, that means that, in the last 15 years, the energy efficiency of products and appliances have gone up by somewhere between 25% and 35%.” Philip Sellwood, CEO, Energy Saving Trust

As product standards expert Stewart Muir pointed out in a previous blog, there is little sense in turning our backs on this from either an energy-saving or business perspective. Maintaining and building on these standards should be at the forefront of thinking in negotiations.