Budget doesn’t do enough to tackle the climate emergency 

This week’s Budget has done little to inspire hope that the incumbent UK Government is committed to tackling the climate emergency and lowering household energy bills. 

The continued lack of focus on the climate emergency is beyond disappointing. The devastating effects of global warming and climate change can be seen everywhere, including the UK. Real investment in long term plans and solutions are needed now if the UK is to realise its 2050 net zero target. 

We welcome the extension of a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies, and the much-needed additional funding for households dealing with cost-of-living pressures. We also welcome the £120m investment to support the expansion of low carbon manufacturing supply chains.

However, what is missing is meaningful investment in accelerating the decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock and moving away from reliance on fossil fuels. 

Headshot of Changeworks Chief Executive Josiah Lockhart

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Changeworks


The lack of commitment from Government to accelerate the UK’s climate targets is causing uncertainty throughout the decarbonisation sector, including funders, householders and the supply chain. With uncertainty comes a lack of investment.  

The UK’s homes account for 26% of carbon emissions. Decarbonising and improving the energy efficiency of homes, as well as the electrification of heat, are key to lowering carbon emissions, alleviating fuel poverty and meeting net zero targets.  

The UK Government’s lack of commitment to tackling the climate emergency was evident in September ‘23, when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a number of U-turns on policies needed to meet net zero targets. Instead of dealing with the ever-growing climate crisis, the Government is wasting time scoring points going into an election year. 

The watering down of climate policy, coupled with an ongoing reliance on fossil fuel heating, will continue to have a devastating impact on those already struggling with high energy bills, condemning even more people to fuel poverty. 

Climate change is the most significant threat to the environment and our way of life, and the Scottish public know this. A recent survey* by Changeworks showed that 79% of adults in Scotland think climate change is a major problem that needs to be addressed. 

In Scotland, we are also dealing with a fuel poverty crisis. Scottish homes are some of the least energy efficient in Europe. Around 35% of Scottish households are in fuel poverty, and over 50% of homes have an Energy Performance rating of D or below. 

This is where the link between the climate crisis and fuel poverty crisis becomes obvious. Relying on oil and gas for home heating leads to higher, unaffordable energy bills. It also produces almost 13% of Scotland’s carbon emissions. 

Josiah Lockhart, Changeworks’ Chief Executive commented: “Rather than make long term investment commitments that will bring down household energy bills and help to tackle the climate emergency, with this Budget the UK Government has chosen to ignore what is staring them square in the face and continues to cause complete uncertainty in the sector. 

“Energy bills and carbon emissions from homes will remain high until homes in Scotland and the rest of the UK are retrofitted with energy efficient measures, and until the UK stops relying on gas and oil and instead focusses on the electrification of heat.” 

*Changeworks commissioned a nationally representative survey of adults in Scotland in November ’23 managed by 56 Degree Insight.  

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