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Zero Sum

23 January 2020

Zero Sum [ 3.1 mb]

Tackling the climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges facing societies today, and meeting the UK's net zero target will have major implications for the people we help every day. 

In June 2019 the UK was the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.  The target means that we have to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels.  

Citizens Advice is fully behind the goal to achieve net zero.  We know it won’t be possible without the support and buy in of everybody in the country. There will need to be a lot of changes for people and their homes.  Achieving net zero won’t be possible without ensuring over 90% of homes have low carbon heating systems, up from just 4.5% today. Low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps, biomass boilers, advanced storage heaters, heat networks and hydrogen boilers will need to be installed in over 29 million homes in the UK - a monumental, once in a generation, task.

It will be essential to communicate and help people with these changes.  Public support will be crucial for a successful transition to a low-carbon future. 

3 issues to tackle today to help people tomorrow:

1. The net zero regulation challenge. Government and regulators should work together to create a net zero ‘consumer protection promise’. This will ensure:

  • Consumer protections can evolve and adapt as the market, products and services change 

  • Suitable support (including independent advice and redress) is available for people buying energy in different ways

  • People are protected and confident that regulators will take action in the event of a company failure, regardless of which market it happens in

2. Companies providing energy products, services or supply must be required to make information about products and services transparent and accessible. This will be crucial to give consumers the confidence to engage with (and change) the way they use energy.

3. The government’s forthcoming heat policy roadmap must include specific consumer protections and a programme of support to ensure consumers are at the heart of the low-carbon transition.