To 0% rate VAT on refurbishment projects total costs if they substantially reduce CO2e emission of the building; impose a 20% VAT for new build schemes, reduced to 5% if the build meets minimum passive house standard; to 0% rate VAT for all items on a regularly updated list of energy-saving products
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Since Brexit, UK has total freedom to use a differential VAT regime to address the climate emergency.
UK construction industry produces 40% of our total emissions; initial embodied carbon can account for 75% of lifetime emissions. Retrofitting is carbon-efficient but the current VAT regime privileges new build over refurbishment.
The government could also incentivize retrofit by removing the liability for VAT from all energy-efficiency products and simplify the processing for claiming back.