Energy efficient homes vital to cut London emissions

It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of tackling energy wastage in London's homes and the public need easy access to clear, straightforward information about how to address the issue and access funding to do so.

This is the conclusion of a report published by Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, this week.

Private households are responsible for a significant percentage of emissions everywhere in the UK, but due to high population density and little heavy industry, the figures are worst in London where homes account for 37% of carbon emissions.

At the other end of the scale the North East, the best performing region, emits only 20% of its carbon from domestic sources.

While London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has set targets for energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in new developments in the city, little has been done to address the existing housing stock and in a report from Ms Lambert's office, Hothouses, the MEP argues that without a radical rethink in Westminster, we will fail to meet targets and fail to combat climate change.

"Energy use in and by homes across the UK amount to about 30% of our carbon emissions but this could be reduced by a minimum of 60% by 2050 or earlier if the right energy saving policies are applied," she said.

"The mechanisms in place to increase insulation and other forms of domestic energy savings however, are simply not fit for the purpose and will not make the required impact.

"With different Government departments and other agencies delivering a range of schemes, working to different standards, there is a lack of co-ordination. What we need to see is higher targets and expectations for Decent Homes, Warm Front and other Government run schemes."

This summer the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive comes into force in the UK with the potential to reduce emissions by requiring all homes that are sold or rented to be energy rated in a similar way to that of fridges and other white goods (see related story).

But to make the directive a success, argues the report, public must be able to access consistent
information, funding and advice on energy efficiency through 'one stop shops' rather than the existing piecemeal approach to providing information.

"If we deal with energy-inefficient homes through extensive insulation programmes we can also combat fuel poverty which has doubled since 2003. By making homes both comfortable and sustainable we can tackle climate change and meet a social need," said Ms Lambert.

"The urgency demanded by the threat of climate change and the problem of fuel poverty however requires a greater and more focused commitment to drive this agenda forward."

Hothouses can be found on Jean Lambert's website. Sam Bond



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