Lee Rowley at UKREiiF, UKREiiF, c PNW

Housing minister Lee Rowley spoke at UKREiiF on Wednesday. Credit: PNW

UKREiiF | 2050 sustainability goals are stretch targets, says housing minister

“If the target was achievable, there’d be no point to it,” said Lee Rowley MP to a packed pavilion crowd on a rainy Wednesday at the Leeds-based property convention.

The housing minister was being interviewed by L&Q chief executive Fiona Fletcher-Smith at UKREiiF. She had asked him whether or not the UK would reach its target to be net zero by 2050.

“I hope we will get there,” Rowley had said, before adding that everyone needed to recognise it was a stretch target.

The difficulty of the task at hand requires substantial change, he went on.

“We’ve got to organise ourselves in a way to try to get there [and meet our target],” Rowley said. “We’ve also got to try and, as you say, eat the elephant in bite-sized chunks and make sure we do it over time.”

Rowley pointed out that there was a reason that the net zero goals were made in 2019 with 31 years until they were set to be accomplished – it’s not a task that can be accomplished overnight.

“If we want to decarbonise by 2030, I’ll have all your keys for your cars, just leave them with me at the door,” he said. “I’ll have all your phones. I’ll have all your Hive applications. Please go back to your caves.

“This is not a serious discussion about how we make the biggest change outside of war to our society in a single generation that has taken 400 years to get to the place where it is,” Rowley went on.

He concluded: “We’ve got a huge amount of work to do in buildings, a huge amount of work to do in decarbonisation, and the last mile is going to be eye-watering difficult. That is something we have to work through, but the best way to get to that is to work through this easy stuff first.”

Rowley’s words came the day after a report from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero showed that the UK had over-delivered its budget for carbon emissions reduction during the period from 2018 to 2022, with it already on track to over-deliver similarly on its budget for the period from 2023 to 2027.

In proof of how the General Election announcement took even cabinet members by surprise, Rowley was asked by Fletcher-Smith about whether or not the rumours of a 4 July election were true. This was five hours before the official announcement, and Rowley said he was still operating on the principle it would still be in the later part of the year.

UKREiiF concludes on 23 May at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Stay up-to-date on the latest coverage of the convention on our UKREiiF news hub.

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