We must all play our part in meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals


The UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) has released its wide-ranging report on how the UK is performing on the Sustainable Development Goals, the progress made to date and how SMEs can help the UK play its part.

The call for more collaboration between business and government, for less siloed thinking and for greater emphasis on changing behaviours is to be welcomed. It is down to us all in the energy and build-environment sectors to play our part in meeting these vital, global goals.

‘Measuring Up’ How the UK is performing on the Sustainable Development Goals https://www.ukssd.co.uk/measuringup

Executive Summary

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the UK with a unique opportunity to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, combat catastrophic climate change and protect our natural environment by 2030.

The SDGs are unpinned by the principle of universality. This means that all nations, and all people, are responsible for their achievement. It also means that all governments must work to implement them in their own nations.

What is happening in the UK

With the evidence from ‘Measuring up’ we can understand how the UK is performing against the SDG Targets, the wider policy context and the historical trends that will affect us achieving them. The SDGs are the most comprehensive tool to date to assess the ‘state of the nation’.

The value of the 17 SDGs and their 169 Targets lies in their connectedness. The evidence here allows us to see how we can take collaborative action, including through partnership with the Government. The links between targets are identifiable in every goal. It is clear that the SDGs cannot be achieved by individual organisations or Government working alone or in siloes; the links between targets mean collaboration is critical.

What needs to happen

As well as government, business has a critical role in the implementation of the SDGs. Some UK businesses have already positively responded to the SDG agenda, recognising the economic opportunities as well as the environmental urgency. Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to review how they can help the delivery of the SDGs in the UK based on the analysis in this report, and to collaborate with others to address them.

The findings in this report provide all stakeholders with a means of identifying their role and the opportunities open to them. We can use this report as a starting point for our future activities, together.

Content Coms looks at the progress on the SDG7 more closely:

SDG7 – Affordable and clean energy https://www.ukssd.co.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=39af73ea-2d2f-4e53-a82a-3ad17e76e0a9

Many existing forms of energy used for electricity, heating and transport are high emitters of carbon, contributing to climate change. Building an affordable and sustainable future energy system is a complex and multifaceted challenge. At its heart sits the balance between investment needed today with the growing cost of inaction tomorrow.

The UK has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 42% since 1990, halfway to its 80% reduction target by 2050 (theccc.org.uk). Renewables now provide 30% of UK’s electricity; including nuclear, low-carbon sources provide over half of our electricity. However, progress in decarbonisation of heat and transport has been slow and more renewable generation is needed in all future decarbonisation pathways.

The best way to reduce both energy costs and carbon is for people to use energy efficiently and flexibly. Batteries and smart technology can help people use more when it is plentiful and less when it is not. Though technology is important, engaging people to use information to take control of their energy needs will be key.

Key findings

  • There has been progress in decarbonisation of electricity, but progress in heat & transport remains elusive.
  • Clean Growth Strategy commitments could reboot progress on energy efficiency but need to be translated into effective policies.
  • At least 50-70 TWh per annum of new renewable and low carbon electricity generation will be needed in the next decade to fill the capacity gap identified by the Committee on Climate Change.
  • 25-30 GW of flexibility capacity from batteries and demand response is needed to run a more efficient network, manage renewable generation and handle new demand technologies such as electric vehicles.

Performance and progress

Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to tackle fuel poverty and to manage long-term affordability in heating and powering homes.

The Committee recommends steadily increasing the minimum energy efficiency requirements (MEES) for let properties, moving minimum EPC from level E to level C by 2030.

The smart-meter roll-out remains broadly on track with less than three years to go. However, a modern energy system also needs effective engagement and energy products and services to help people manage energy use through smart technologies. As well as changing behaviour, the system needs to avoid leaving behind those who are unable or unwilling to engage – an issue Ofgem has explored but has yet to solve.

A recent report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that improvements in energy efficiency of homes have stalled since 2015.

Target 7.2 is about substantially increasing the share of renewables in final energy consumption. Key to this is the Climate Change Act 2008 and the associated policy framework including the carbon budgets set by the Committee on Climate Change.

The UK also has shorter term targets for renewable generation by 2020 through the EU Renewable Energy Directive. Renewable heat remains challenging and the UK is likely to be below the 12% renewable contribution level in 2020. The 2017 Clean Growth Strategy contains strong statements on low-carbon heat, but the impacts of any new policies are still some years away.

Recommended actions

Develop a combined strategy for energy efficiency and low-carbon heat, building on the commitments in the Clean Growth Strategy and focusing on the fuel poor, to include:

  1. A zero-carbon new homes standard
  2. An increase in EPC requirements for landlords up to band C by 2030
  3. A new Green Deal with low cost borrowing to unlock energy efficiency investment
  4. Exempting rooftop solar and batteries from business rate calculations
  5. Continue to improve and accelerate energy efficiency of product standards post Brexit
  6. A comprehensive engagement programme around people and smart energy

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