Government called on to invest carbon taxes in energy efficiency

Consumer Focus has urged the government to use carbon taxes to invest in a large-scale energy efficiency programme.

A coalition of organisations which includes ASDA, Friends of the Earth and the Cooperative, have joined forces with statutory consumer champion Consumer Focus to argue that more jobs and greater economic growth could be generated through energy efficiency programmes. And that investment in other Government spending programmes or cuts to fuel duty would not have the same impact.

A report, 'Jobs, growth and warmer homes', published today, shows that significant Government energy efficiency infrastructure investment could generate up to 71,000 jobs and boost GDP by 0.2% by 2015 creating up to 130,000 jobs by 2027.

In addition, the report claims that vast energy efficiency improvements could lift up to nine out of ten households out of fuel poverty, cut household energy consumption by 5.4% by 2027 and quadruple the impact of the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.

As well as economic gains, the move could cut overall carbon emissions by 1.1%, including a 5.6% reduction in household emissions by 2027, according to the report.

Consumer Focus argues that investing in energy efficiency has substantial advantages over alternative options. The consumer organisation says it is fast to mobilise, and would stimulate economic activity and jobs in all regions of the UK. It would also create jobs in construction and related sectors, which have been hit hard by the recession.

Energy consumers will pay an additional £4bn each year in carbon taxes through their energy bills by 2020 estimates Consumer Focus, who says a proportion of this should be used to invest in energy efficiency infrastructure.

Consumer Focus chief executive Mike O'Connor believes the move would have multiple benefits

"We need to make heating our homes more affordable, cut carbon emissions and achieve economic growth. Using carbon taxes to ensure our homes leak less energy represents a triple-whammy.

"This would simultaneously improve the quality of life of millions of people, slash carbon emissions and generate greater economic growth than other measures. Consumers will be paying these taxes through their bills. They can and should feel the benefit," he said.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has hailed the report as further evidence that the time is perfect for the Government to act on energy efficiency.

WWF-UK energy efficiency policy officer Zoe Leader said: "WWF has long called for the use of our environmental taxes to support energy efficiency and the UK's transition to a low carbon economy. This report by Consumer Focus provides us with even more evidence that such a policy should be implemented and implemented quickly."

"With householders facing ever higher energy bills year on year the fact that this policy could reduce energy bills by over £200 a year is compelling, even to Government. With the publication of a new Energy Bill imminent and the need for robust solutions to bring us out of recession the timing for a policy of this calibre has never been better. We urge the Government not just to take note but to take action."

Conor McGlone


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