A major energy efficiency drive could be one of the best ways of boosting the economy, creating jobs and tackling fuel policy, according to a report out today from Consumer Focus.
The consumer organisation says that revenues from carbon taxes could be used to support the programme, which would re-energise the construction and related sectors that have been particularly hard hit by the recession.
According to the report, Jobs, growth and warmer homes, diverting from 35% to almost all carbon tax revenue to targeted energy efficiency schemes could have myriad benefits.
Improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock would reduce the average energy bill for a treated home by at least £200 a year, lifting nine out of ten of the six million homes currently affected away from fuel poverty.
Depending on the level of investment, fuel poverty could be cut by an unprecedented between 75-87%. Otherwise, estimates predict that more than one in three homes – over 9 million households – could be in fuel poverty as energy prices continue to rise.
Moreover, a significant government-led energy efficiency investment could boost GDP by 0.2% and create up to 71,000 jobs by 2015, rising to some 130,000 jobs by 2027, according to the research carried out by Cambridge Econometrics and Verco for the report.
Overall, the initiative could reduce carbon emissions by 1.1%, cutting household energy consumption 5.4% and emissions 5.6% by 2027.
“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,” says Mike O’Connor, chief executive at Consumer Focus. “The government’s current energy efficiency and fuel poverty plans will only touch the tip of [the] iceberg. However, [it] has the opportunity to use the large and stable revenues from carbon taxes to deliver the most breathtaking and transformative energy efficiency scheme that we have ever seen.”
The government responded to the report by defending its existing policies aimed at tackling fuel poverty.
“Two million households will get help under the Warm Home Discount Scheme this year, including more than one million low income pensioners who will get £130 off their bill,” said Energy Minister Greg Barker. “There is also help available with heating and insulation under the Warm Front scheme. And from next year the Green Deal will help millions improve their homes.”
But the report has been welcomed by green groups and trades unions. TUC General Secretary Designate Frances O’Grady commented:
“The financial case for insulating the homes of low-income families across the UK is overwhelming. It would bring thousands of new, highly-skilled green jobs, reduce energy bills for the UK’s poorest households, and give an economic boost to the UK that would far outweigh the cost of public investment.”
For further information:
UK’s Citizens Advice urgers householders to switch to save (26-Oct)
UK government ‘blitzes’ local energy efficiency initiatives with £40 million (22-Oct)
UK government’s Green Deal officially gets off the ground (2-Oct)
UK government defines new way to measure fuel poverty (19-Sept)
Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5533/