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WWF-UK resigns from Zero Carbon Taskforce

1 April 2011

WWF has resigned from the Zero Carbon Taskforce with immediate effect following the Government's decision, released without announcement in documents accompanying the Budget, that the definition of Zero Carbon Homes will no longer include the emissions from unregulated energy use within the home.

By removing appliances and their energy use from the definition this policy can no now longer be defined as "zero carbon". The change effectively transfers the task of providing clean energy for these homes from the housebuilder to the wider power sector. It will make decarbonising the grid by 2030 (as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change) that much harder and by transfering the costs from the housebuilder/homeowner to energy bill payers in general, what was a private cost for a homeowner now becomes a cost for the general public regardless of income and ability to pay.

WWF can therefore no longer work with the taskforce, nor support the policy.

This fundamental shift in policy will result in new homes being built that add to the overall emissions burden of UK homes. The zero carbon homes policy, as it stood, would have been a pioneering policy instrument for the UK, putting us not only ahead of European housing policy, but in the lead globally too. Such leadership had the potential to provide the UK with major economic and environmental benefits. Moreover, the zero carbon homes policy had cross-party support.

The last four years had seen a real change across industry and supply chains with house builders and suppliers gearing up to deliver this policy from 2016. Many companies were gearing up their supply chains in the expectation of tough housing standards and the demand that the ZCH policy would create for community renewable projects. The decision has undermined their progress, and sends the worst possible signal to companies that have planned their investments on the basis of the original zero carbon homes policy.

Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "Since 2007, WWF has been dedicated to working with the Zero Carbon Taskforce on a pioneering piece of housing policy. So it is a shattering blow to find out, without consultation, that the Government has taken a decision to undermine both climate and housing legislation. WWF is left with no choice but to resign from the taskforce as the ‘zero carbon’ homes policy comes tumbling down.”

WWF-UK has been on the zero carbon taskforce since 2007, helping to advise on the standards and details for the homes. WWF has been prepared to be realistic and compromise in some areas to ensure a sustainable and viable policy. This announcement, however, appears to be a unilateral decision by the Government with no consultation with stakeholders, rendering the zero carbon taskforce effectively useless.

For further information please call Benjamin Ward, Head of Press at WWF-UK on 07837 134 193 or email bward@wwf.org.uk



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