With many people switching on their heating for the start of the winter, and with global talks on climate change starting in Paris next month, a new report shows major investment is needed to improve Welsh homes through measures such as loft insulation and more efficient boilers.
The research, carried out by the Energy Saving Trust for WWF Cymru, reveals:
- Welsh Government is currently on track in terms of meeting its target of cutting emissions from homes by 3% annually but continuing to meet the target each year until 2020 is heavily dependent on UK Government action on grid decarbonisation. Because UK delivery on this is uncertain, Welsh Ministers now need to scale up action on home energy efficiency.
- A viable scenario for meeting this target requires at least £860 million in energy efficiency measures such as condensing boilers, draught proofing and cavity wall insulation over the next five years.
- Only 8% of emission reduction in Wales between 2007 and 2014 was a result of flagship Welsh Government schemes, Nest and Arbed, with the rest from UK schemes.
Reducing emissions from the residential sector in Wales is an important part of Welsh Government's role in tackling climate change - being responsible for 24% of emissions covered by the 3% annual reduction target for devolved policy areas.
WWF Cymru is now recommending that the Welsh Government makes a home energy efficiency programme a long-term national infrastructure priority.
It says ministers should set a target for all homes in Wales to be at least 'Band C' on the energy efficiency scale. Achieving this standard would help the Welsh Government meet its overall target on reducing carbon emissions and also tackle the huge problem of fuel poverty in Wales.
The above recommendation is consistent with the proposal in a report by Cambridge Econometrics and VERCO for Energy Bill Revolution . This calls on the UK Government to spend £1.3 billion between now and 2020 as an initial investment in bringing all homes in the UK up to a 'SAP rating' of C by 2035. This would be equivalent to allocating funding of approximately £800 million for this work in Wales between now and 2020.
To get the financing for this work the £690m received by the Treasury in the next five years through VAT and carbon taxes from domestic energy consumers in Wales could be ring-fenced for investment back into the domestic sector.
WWF Cymru suggests the balance between the £690m and £800m (or even the EST's estimate of over £860 million) could be made up by the Welsh Government. For comparison, the Scottish Government is proposing to invest £114 million per year in home energy efficiency. If the Welsh Government were to make a proportional spend based on relative budget, it would mean about £50 million/year here.
Commenting on the publication of the report, WWF Cymru Policy and Advocacy Officer Jessica McQuade said:
This research shows in detail the scale of the challenge to meet emission reduction targets from our homes in Wales. A combination of measures is needed make Welsh homes fit for the future and to make sure we play our part in tackling climate change.
"Of course we recognise that this is a big undertaking, but we also believe that it is critical that this gets done. In the year of the Paris climate talks, it is vital that Wales shows it is taking serious action on addressing emissions at home. We call on ministers and parties to make a commitment to prioritise energy efficiency programmes at the scale this new research demonstrates is required".
Shea Jones, Policy Officer for Community Housing Cymru, added:
"Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies can have clear benefits environmentally, socially and economically. This report outlines some of the challenges we face and makes it clear that we must significantly build on some of the good work we've already done in order to meet our climate emissions reduction targets, thereby reducing the number of people suffering from fuel poverty and increasing our ambitions to create jobs."
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WWF is one of the world's largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk.
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