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Govt’s net zero U-turn ignores public opinion


In an unfortunate twist of fate, the government chose the day before Zero Emissions Day, a global call to action against climate change, to roll back our nation's net zero carbon emissions commitments. 

London, 27th September 2023 

While the electric vehicle shift remains pivotal in the climate battle, the decision to postpone the fossil fuel vehicle ban for another five years has understandably seized the spotlight. However, buried in the prime minister's statement were concerning announcements regarding the built environment. 

Campaign group Architecture 2030's research reveals that the built environment constitutes a staggering 40% of global carbon emissions. It's the elephant in the room. Yet, plans to weaken gas boiler phase-outs, delay oil-fuelled boiler bans by nine years, postpone the adoption of heat pumps, and scrap energy efficiency targets for landlords defy logic. 

Lessons from New York's Progressive Approach

Our global climate leadership status is slipping away. Instead, we should look to the progressive steps taken in some US states, like New York. The Empire State has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and at least 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. 

New York's "cap-and-invest" program is a shining example. Businesses purchase carbon credits, with allowances dwindling over time. Revenues are reinvested in emission-cutting initiatives, including EV charging infrastructure, replacing fossil fuel appliances, and insulating buildings in underserved communities. 

Going further, New York City is to impose strict carbon caps on buildings exceeding 25,000 sq ft, with landlords facing fines starting at $286 per tonne of carbon dioxide released by 2024, and increasing substantially by 2030. 

Public Engagement and Government's Approach

Surprisingly, our Government's inconsistent and frankly lukewarm approach contrasts with the public's eagerness to combat climate change. More than 60% of respondents report striving for sustainability in the past year. Britons are willingly adopting energy-saving practices, cutting food waste, and reducing leisure and travel trips. 

The COVID-induced global lockdown demonstrated the immediate impact of reduced human activity on air pollution. The government's claim that recent actions aim to alleviate cost-of-living concerns seems dubious. 

Research from JLL suggests that green buildings can boost rents by 11.6%, and improved EPC ratings can generate an extra 4.2% due to lower utility bills. CBRE notes that 58% of property stakeholders are willing to pay premiums for on-site renewables and 32% value on-site biodiversity. 

Pavegen's Commitment to Sustainability

Pavegen wholeheartedly supports Zero Emissions Day, aiming to promote cleaner energy sources over fossil fuels.  We are committed to helping people and businesses take on the built environment. Pavegen is a greentech company – we produce innovative floor tiles that convert the kinetic energy of people or cycles into green, off grid electrical energy - aligning with our carbon footprint reduction pledge.  

Recently, for example, we partnered with Evertreen Fund to plant 1000 trees in October 2023 and we will keep planting as we roll out our technology globally with clients. It is estimated that each tree could absorb up to 10kg of carbon each year during their first 20 years of growth.  

Our technology is already helping businesses communicate their sustainability initiatives and demonstrate their commitment. As part of our Zero Emission Day activities we are displaying some of these solutions at the Building Centre in London.  

Public Support for Climate Initiatives

UK residents understand the need for personal sacrifices to avert a global catastrophe. Sixty percent would support an equivalent climate tax, considering it more effective than the controversial ULEZ scheme, with even higher support in London and Wales. 

While challenges remain, there's hope. The public comprehends the perils and supports climate solutions. The tragedy lies in our government's focus on staying in power rather than providing global leadership. Zero Emissions Day underscores the role we all play in safeguarding our planet's future. 

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