Labour: Importance of energy efficiency won’t be disputed in run up to election

Energy efficiency must be 'central' to discussions around building a sustainable low carbon economy, lifting people out of fuel poverty and saving the planet, says the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister.

Speaking at Carbon Connect and the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum’s Energy Efficiency summer reception yesterday, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister Luciana Berger reaffirmed the Labour Party’s commitment to the energy efficiency agenda and in particular the coalition’s flagship scheme, the Green Deal.

With less than two years until the next general election, Berger cited energy efficiency as one of the major issues all parties would agree on in the run up to 2015.

“There is one year nine months and 29 days until next general election. We know this is going to be a very closely fought contest, a lot will be at stake and there will be many things which not all the parties agree about but one thing that will not be disputed is the drive for greater energy efficiency,” she said.

Berger stressed the important role the Green Deal will play in achieving a low carbon economy and highlighted that 38% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.

“It’s no secret that we have some of the most energy inefficient properties in Europe,” said Berger.

She also pointed out the severity of the issue by comparing homes in Malmo, Sweden, which is on average seven degrees colder than the UK, to that of a home in Dudley north England.

“A home in Malmo will use between 4 and 5 times less energy than a home in Dudley in the UK,” she explained.

“We need to retrofit on average one home every minute between now and 2050 in order to reduce our emissions by 80% and that is the commitment that has been outlined in the Climate Change Act,” said Berger.

Last month this commitment took a hit when the Government published figures showing that the scheme has had just four customers’ sign up since its launch over five months ago.

“As the opposition, we are committed to the Green Deal in spirit and in principle and, of course, it’s off the back of the Pay As You Stay scheme that we piloted when in government. But it’s fair to say that we think it’s our responsibility to hold the Government to account to make sure that it delivers what we all want to see, whether that’s the 10,000 homes by the end of this year or the 14 million by 2020,” she said.

Berger said that Labour is “looking very closely” at the issues surrounding the Green Deal, in particular the financial side of the scheme.

“We’ve raised on numerous occasions our concerns about the interest rates and whether that’s attractive enough for people to take up the finance as it currently stands,” she said.

Berger also said that Labour is aware of the challenges in the supply chain, particularly with access for small to medium sized enterprises to the market.

“We would be very keen to work with Government to ensure those obstacles are overcome. This is clearly a long-term project,” said Berger.

Leigh Stringer

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