It’s not too late to insulate homes this winter, says Lord Deben | power

Addressing the cost of living crisis requires urgent isolation of UK homes and faster implementation of renewable energy generation, said the chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Lord Deben, a former Conservative Secretary of the Environment, said the measures needed to reduce energy bills are the same as those needed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

He said it was not too late to start insulating homes for the winter and that measures to that effect could attract support from all parties.

“What we need to do for the zero grid is what we need to do for the cost of living crisis,” he said in an interview. “And when people say we can’t afford net zero, frankly we can’t afford not to aim for net zero. This is where the Climate Change Committee has been so critical of the government, because we should have an important policy to improve people’s homes. “

He said the government should quickly come up with an isolation plan. “It’s never too late to do something,” she said. “Local authorities have already started programs, they can roll them out pretty quickly if they have the money to do it. Obviously it would have been better if they had started three or six months ago, but the fact is that they could do a lot ”.

Despite repeated appeals from parliamentarians, local government, industry and energy experts, the government has yet to come up with plans for a major new isolation strategy. There has been no nationwide program to help middle-income people insulate their homes from the demolition of the failed green-house concession last year.

In his mini-budget, the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, extended the current scheme whereby energy companies subsidize energy efficiency measures for some of the poorest households, but refused to go any further. He has promised changes to planning regulations that currently effectively ban onshore wind farms in England, which could pave the way for new turbines.

Deben said the soaring energy bills were at the heart of the UK’s economic crisis. “The problem is, how do you reduce the cost of energy? There are two ways to do this: one is to have more renewable energy, because it is the cheapest form of energy, and the second way is to allow people to use less energy thanks to energy efficiency. They are quite clear and simple and can be done both, ”she said.

The private sector could also be involved in funding isolation schemes, he suggested. “There is a wonderful opportunity and there is a great deal of private sector money in there if the government creates a scheme.”

Deben called on ministers to do more to help people make low-carbon choices, saying people who approach plumbers or heating engineers often sell boilers instead of heat pumps. “I am very excited about a proper government policy so that someone can call and say, ‘Look, I have a three bedroom house, I want to do the right thing. Instead of buying a new gas boiler, where do I go to get the information? ‘ And there should be very direct help ”.

New homes are still being built with gas boilers, without renewable energy and with low standards, and will need to be remodeled costly in the future to reach the net zero goal of 2050. Deben countered this with the government’s success in stimulating l automotive industry to produce electric vehicles by setting a deadline of 2030 for the latest sales of new petrol or diesel cars.

“There is a good example of a government doing the right thing, setting a goal, saying exactly what it will be,” he said. “If only they had done it with construction. We are still waiting for future house standards and will have to watch very carefully when they come out correctly. “

Deben said he is not against fracking, as the CCC has no opinion on the technology, but said it will not ease gas prices for consumers.

“We have never opposed fracking, we have always said that fracking is perfectly acceptable as long as it meets the environmental standards we have set,” he said. “This does not mean that it will be a cheap thing to do and you will continue to sell the gas at the market price. And it also takes time. It cannot be argued that it will lower the price. “

He defended the government’s plans to extract as much as possible of the oil and gas fields that exist in the North Sea. “There is a very good argument for getting the most out of the North Sea to address the situation in Ukraine. It is perfectly reasonable. [But] this doesn’t mean you should be doing new, huge things.

He said ministers should be clear that expanding drilling or fracking in the North Sea would not cut prices. “Don’t pretend, for heaven’s sake, with people going to lower their bills, because they won’t.”

The CCC concluded in February that it was beyond its remit to advise the government not to issue new licenses to open more gas fields in the North Sea. But the independent advisory board said the new licenses would take years to produce gas, would not lower energy prices, and could help push the world closer to climate collapse.

Deben, who was asked this summer by the government to extend his term as chair of the CCC until next June, said the perception that more gas is needed in the UK is wrong.

“The problem at the moment is that people see this as a never-ending situation of rising bills, and then there are some people who are foolish enough to say that because gas is so expensive, we should have more gas. As if the gas we produce ourselves were different from the world price of gas. It doesn’t change any of the arguments about fracking, or anything else, actually. “

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