Energy efficiency cannot compete in the excitement stakes with experimental green technologies or smart infrastructure but if Ministers are serious about a #GreenRecovery and achieving #NetZero it needs to be prioritised for significant investment next week.
Let me explain why…
Let me explain why…
When it came to climate action, Johnson’s Dudley speech was thin gruel but the rhetoric he used set the bar very high for the Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday. @RishiSunak needs to announce an ambitious stimulus package geared toward the rapid decarbonisation of our economy.
Any green stimulus package worthy of the name must incorporate the Government's manifesto commitment to “invest £9.2bn in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals”. And yet that pledge still hangs in the balance.
Overlooking the urgent need for a national energy efficiency programme in the summer statement on Wednesday, on the basis that it’s too mundane or in the misguided belief that the money might be better spent elsewhere, would be deplorable. https://twitter.com/mtpennycook/status/1277547020471930880?s=20
The human cost of inaction here is real. 4.5 million UK homes overheat each summer, resulting in 2,000 extra deaths. In winter, high energy bills leave 2.4 million households in fuel poverty and cold homes result in a shocking 9,700 extra deaths, the second-worst rate in Europe.
And the environmental cost of not acting is just as serious. Inefficient buildings produce 18% of the UK’s carbon emissions. That's why @theCCCuk's made clear in their 2020 Progress Report that the £9.2bn pledge was “welcome but not enough to match the size of the challenge”.
The benefits of significant investment in energy efficiency are manifold. Not only is it essential to achieving our #NetZero target, cutting energy bills and improving health outcomes but it would put large numbers of people back to work and develop our skills base.
According to an @IPPR study this week, retrofitting our housing stock would create 234,000 new jobs spread evenly across all regions of the country. We could put that zero-carbon army in the field quickly and also create opportunities for apprenticeships and retraining.
We know the economics work. Green stimulus measures outperformed more conventional ones after the 2008 Financial Crisis and when it comes to the long-term multiplier effect, energy efficiency is, as @MLiebreich recently put it, “the Swiss Army Knife of stimulus spending”.
As mundane as it might sound, energy efficiency is also popular. It ranked high on the list of preferred sectors for job creation in a new @CEN_SQ survey and polling by @SavantaComRes for @IPPR this week showed 76% support for low-cost loans/grants to upgrade home insulation.
Minimal progress on energy efficiency over recent years has led to preventable deaths, preventable fuel poverty, preventable carbon emissions and, with 1.8 million homes built since the Climate Change Act was passed, many of which require expensive retrofitting, preventable cost.
In sum, not only is a #GreenRecovery essential but significant investment in energy efficiency must be an integral part of it. The Government must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity and put energy efficiency front and centre of a green stimulus package on Wednesday.