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10 December 2021

Looking back on 2021 - decarbonisation is firmly on the political map

Looking back on 2021 - decarbonisation is firmly on the political map

2021 has been a big year for decarbonisation in Wales - and so it should have been. We are one year closer to 2050, a date by which, by law, Wales has to reach net-zero emissions.

Welsh Government Housing Decarbonisation Programmes

In November, the Welsh government launched its second round of funding for the Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP). The aim of the programme is to begin the retrofitting of homes in Wales to low-carbon standards. This year the Minister for Climate Change announced that this programme would be funded for at least three years, with £50m being committed annually. We have previously only seen annual funding commitments being made to ORP, and although up to £5bn will be needed for the decarbonisation of the social housing sector, this is a step in the right direction to seeing longer term certainty over the funding of energy efficient homes.

The last year also saw the Labour government make strides on delivering an election promise to build 20,000 new, affordable, low carbon homes by committing an additional £50m for the Social Housing Grant, taking its total to £250m – four times the amount invested at the beginning of the last Senedd term.

COP26

This year, the UK hosted one of the most significant climate events since the Paris 2015 Agreement - COP26. Mark Drakeford said that he believed the summit delivered hope of averting the worst effects of climate change. The event didn’t come without controversy, with many saying commitments could have gone further. However it did signify a step forward with hundreds of countries coming together to make joint commitments to reaching net zero.

Future Generations Commission

The Future Generations Commission published its Homes Fit for the Future report, which looked at how to finance the decarbonisation of homes in Wales. It states that housing must be prioritised by the Welsh government if it is to meet the legally binding climate change target, and highlights the benefits to the Welsh economy such as eradicating fuel poverty, saving the NHS £4.4bn, and creating 26,000 new jobs.

2022 - what to look out for

We will be keeping an eye on two areas in 2022 - budgets and Welsh Quality Housing Standard (WHQS). Both the UK and Welsh government budgets will demonstrate the commitment and investment that will be made to making homes more energy efficient. With WHQS2 having been postponed, we will be working closely with the Welsh government over the next 12 months on what this next standard will look like, ensuring ambition but viability for housing associations.