Posted by: Tom Lloyd27/02/2012
Research showing the government’s flagship home energy efficiency projects won’t meet carbon reduction or fuel poverty targets doesn’t come as any great surprise.
Energy consultancy Camco, which published its findings this morning as part of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, issued a similar warning in research it produced for the National Housing Federation nearly a year ago.
What is striking about today’s research is the scale of the predicted failure.
The government has a target of eliminating fuel poverty in 2016. Camco’s study suggests that far from meeting the target, the problem will actually get 40 per cent worse, meaning a third of UK households will be in fuel poverty, rather than the current figure of a quarter.
The claim from Ed Matthew, director of Transform UK, which is running the campaign, that ‘more people die every year in the UK from living in a cold home than die on our roads’ is also striking.
The rise in fuel poverty is partly due to rising energy prices, over which governments have limited control, but there are a range of other factors that can be changed – most notably the energy efficiency of our homes.
The concern here is that the solution isn’t anywhere near good enough to deal with the problem.
When the green deal was first mooted it was as a voluntary scheme to allow households to get energy efficiency improvements at no up front costs, with the expense of installation recouped through fuel bill savings.
Since then it has become a little tougher, with a few sticks introduced alongside the efficiency carrot. The most significant of these will probably be changes to building regulations, although requirements for feed-in tariff recipients and private landlords could also have some influence.
The overall problem with the green deal, however, is that it is a ‘deal’, and a commercially-orientated one at that. If the government wants to make real progress on tackling fuel poverty then it is probably going to require a fair degree of enforcement and subsidy.
The Energy Company Obligation will play a role, and there is also some finance expected through the Green Investment Bank, but Camco does not think this will be enough.
The Energy Bill Revolution campaign wants to see the government invest £4 billion a year that Camco has calculated will be raised through carbon taxes in energy efficiency measures. That seems unlikely to happen, but something a lot more radical that the green deal may be needed if the government is to get anywhere near its 2016 fuel poverty target.
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