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Miliband criticises Sunak as energy efficiency taskforce scrapped

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The Government’s energy efficiency taskforce has been axed (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Government’s energy efficiency taskforce has been axed after just nine months as Labour claimed Rishi Sunak “does not give a damn” about climate change.

It emerged on Saturday that the taskforce set up to speed up home insulation and boiler upgrades has been disbanded.

Shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband said the move would leave households facing higher bills and warned the Prime Minister “doesn’t give a damn” about tackling climate change.

When the taskforce had its first meeting in March, the Government said it had a “stellar team of leading experts” tasked with coming up with plans to help reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030 across domestic and commercial buildings and industrial processes.

The BBC, which reported the closure of the group, said energy efficiency minister Lord Callanan told members its work would be “streamlined” into ongoing Government activity.

Former Tory MP Laura Sandys, who was on the taskforce, said she was “disappointed” and “confused” by the Government’s intentions.

She said energy efficiency should be the very first priority to “reduce citizens’ costs, improve energy security with less energy required while also cutting carbon emissions”.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “We would like to thank the energy efficiency taskforce for its work in supporting our ambition to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030.

“We have invested £6.6 billion in energy efficiency upgrades this Parliament and will continue to support families in making their homes more efficient, helping them to cut bills while also achieving net zero in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way.”

But Mr Miliband said: “Every family is paying the price in higher energy bills due to 13 years of Tory failure on insulating homes.”

He said closing the taskforce was “another short-sighted decision that will cost families money”.

Earlier, Mr Miliband used an appearance at Labour’s sister Co-operative Party conference to lambast Mr Sunak’s approach to the green agenda.

On Wednesday, Mr Sunak pushed back the ban on new petrol and diesel cars, softened the plan to phase out gas boilers by 2035 and scrapped the requirement of energy efficiency upgrades to homes.

Mr Miliband said: “We face three crises as a country.

“We face a cost-of-living crisis, we face a long-term economic crisis and we face a climate crisis.”

Former Labour leader Mr Miliband said Mr Sunak has “got answers to none of these” and “he doesn’t give a damn about the climate crisis”.

Mr Miliband said: “I think Rishi Sunak simply sees the climate crisis as an obligation to be managed, not an opportunity to be seized, and we see it as an opportunity to be seized.

“We’ve obviously got the obligations but there are huge opportunities here.

“When you think about the jobs we can generate in home insulation, when you think about the jobs you can generate in wind turbine manufacturing, but we haven’t done it as a country.”

He said Labour had a “proper industrial strategy to do it” with subsidies for firms to locate in the UK.

Mr Miliband set out the need for a massive expansion of community renewable energy schemes as part of Labour’s plan to end the use of fossil fuels in electricity production.

He said that would save consumers money and end the influence leaders like Vladimir Putin have on global prices which feed through to bills.

“The only route to energy security in the modern world is through zero carbon power, homegrown zero carbon power.

“That is the way you get out of these problems.

“Otherwise, you’re held hostage by dictators, petrostates and others.”

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