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Make energy efficient homes a UK infrastructure priority, charity demands

A national fuel poverty charity has warned the UK has so far fallen short in ensuring lower carbon heat is viable in fuel poor homes

Ensuring widescale domestic energy efficiency will be vital to realise calls for stricter UK carbon emissions targets and should be made a “national infrastructure priority”, a fuel poverty charity has warned.

National Energy Action (NEA) said it was joining a number of other organisations in calling on the government to create what it calls a comprehensive programme to ensure homes can be effectively and efficiently heated.

The calls have been made following high profile recommendations earlier this month from the influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to introduce stricter targets to totally reduce the UK’s carbon footprint. The report said that its proposed commitments to try and limit global warming were both vital and viable from a technology and cost perspective.

However, the CCC, which advises government on climate change policy, was critical over the limited level of planning to determine how key building services functions such as lower carbon heat can be realised.

The NEA noted that the committee’s recent report had backed a need for fresh investment in providing both low-carbon heating technologies and insulation materials to ensure lower income homes are not excluded from wider national ambitions.

Adam Scorer, chief executive with the charity, said the CCC’s report had concluded that efforts to end fuel poverty in the UK and introduce stricter targets to cut carbon emissions could be complimentary.

He said, “There is now a huge opportunity for the UK government, devolved nations, industry and campaigners to demonstrate how the most vulnerable people in our society can be the first to benefit from this necessary transition.”

The NEA added that there had been dramatic slowdown in work to improve energy efficiency in UK homes, especially within England.

A statement from the charity noted, “Without more ambitious action, the CCC has said in England, 160,000 fuel-poor households could still be living in the least efficient homes by 2020 and the CCC warns an additional 2.4 million households could be pushed into fuel poverty across the UK by 2030.”

“NEA and a wide range of organisations are therefore urging the UK government to make domestic energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and introduce a comprehensive domestic energy efficiency programme to ensure statutory fuel poverty and carbon targets are met.”

CCC recommendations

Among the headline demands within the CCC’s recent report was to realise ’net zero’ emissions of greenhouse gasses by 2050. Scotland was urged to meet the same target five years earlier, according to the report.

The committee warned in the report that a thorough overhaul of the current timescales to curb carbon emissions and a new set of priorities for lower carbon hearting solutions in both new and retrofit buildings was needed.

However, the report was highly critical at the current speed of adoption of new heating methods, emphasising, “There is still no serious plan for decarbonising UK heating systems and no large-scale trials have begun for either heat pumps or hydrogen”.

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