- Visitors & Friends
- About the University
Reducing carbon emissions from the UK’s housing stock will be expensive, but the cost of doing nothing could be even higher.
Homes in the UK could cut their carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, according to work by the Lower Carbon Futures group at the Environmental Change Institute. In November 2007 it launched a report for Friends of the Earth and the Cooperative Bank, Home Truths, that sets out a policy framework to reduce emissions, eradicate fuel poverty, cut energy bills and improve fuel security. Although the government has committed itself to reducing carbon emissions nationally by 60 per cent by the same year, it has hardly begun to draft the policies necessary to achieve its goal.
The group has costed the policies that would make all of Britain’s 25.8 million homes energy efficient: £12.9 billion a year for ten years, or 1 per cent of GDP. Lead author Brenda Boardman agrees that the sum is huge. ‘But it brings home to people the reality of what is needed’, she says. The report acknowledges that people are likely to own even more appliances by the target date, but argues that a combination of low- or zero-carbon technologies (such as solar panels), good building standards, efficient design and ‘energy-conscious usage’ by homeowners could be enough to compensate. Its policy recommendations include financial incentives for domestic energy generation, and a feed-in tariff that rewards households with a premium price for surplus electricity generated through solar or other low- or zero-carbon technologies.
The Lower Carbon Futures group has a track record of practically-oriented research that has proved highly influential. Its DECADE model of domestic electricity use provided policymakers with a tool to evaluate energy efficiency measures. One of its early findings was that domestic lighting uses twice as much of the national energy budget as was previously thought. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for the replacement of incandescent bulbs with low energy alternatives.