Abstract painting of subject, generated by DALL-E 2

Government "achievement"

23 Mar 2009 - Bruno Prior

We know that what follows is typical of how they see the world, but rarely do we see it spelt out so clearly. In the recently issued consultation on a Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, the Government details (p.13) "What we have already achieved" in this field:

  • The Act on CO2 help line

  • The Carbon Trust and Business Links ("supporting businesses to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy")

  • The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on properties

  • The EU-ETS (European Union Emissions Trading Scheme)

  • The Climate Change Levy (CCL, and associated Climate Change Agreements)

  • The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)

  • The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT)

  • A £1 billion fuel bills package (to "help householders who are struggling to pay their fuel bills")

  • £350 million for the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP)

  • £950 million on the Warm Front scheme to improve the properties of low-income households

  • The Decent Homes programme for the social-housing sector, which has "generated investment" in insulation and energy-efficiency of £5.6 billion since 2001.

  • Mandatory sustainability standards ("Quick Wins - Buy Sustainably") for government procurement

  • Salix Finance, a public-funded company that "accelerares public sector investment in energy-efficiency technologies through invest to save schemes."

  • Higher efficiency standards in the Building Regulations, moving to zero-carbon standards by 2016.

  • European product standards (e.g. for labelling electrical equipment)

  • Voluntary Agreements with energy suppliers to "promote energy services and savings".

Truly, a mountain of money, legislation and quangos.

But strangely, there is no reference, within this list of "achievements", to the effect that these measures have had. No quantification of how much more efficiently we heat ourselves and how much energy we have saved. Could this, in some way, be related to the fact that there has been little change in the amount of energy we use to this end?

These "achievements" are followed by a short list of estimates of how many properties have installed condensing boilers and small-scale renewable generators, and how many have had improved insulation. But there is no virtue in this spending if it has not reduced energy-consumption. If people have responded by heating their property to tropical temperatures and leaving the windows open at night, these installations are no achievement, they are a massive waste of energy and public money.

There seems to be a confusion in government circles between means and ends. Legislation is not the achievement. Nor is spending. Nor is bureaucracy. They are the means by which one hopes to achieve one's ends. Listing their policies and spending as their achievements highlights the mindset that predominates in this government.

Organisations: Government

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