UK homes threatening climate targets

21st February 2019


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Author

Andrew Preston

The UK cannot meet its legally binding climate change targets unless almost all CO2 emissions from buildings are eliminated, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned.

In a report published today, the watchdog said that emission cuts in homes have stalled, while energy use, which accounts for 14% of total emissions, increased between 2016 and 2017.

And the government is singled out for blame after key energy efficiency policies like the 'zero carbon homes' scheme were scrapped, while adaptation measures are not “anywhere near“ the required level.

Around 4.5 million homes overheat, UK water consumption is higher than many other EU countries, and 1.8 million people live in areas at significant risk of flooding, the CCC added.

“Major improvements in how we design, build and use our homes are needed to meet these challenges, said Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC's adaptation committee.

“As the climate continues to change, our homes are becoming increasingly unsafe. This will continue unless we take steps now to adapt them for higher temperatures, flooding and water scarcity.“

The damning report describes policies to encourage property flood protection and water efficiency as “weak or non-existent“, while building standards are “inadequate, overly complex and not enforced“.

In response, thee CCC calls on the government to launch a nationwide training progamme to improve a skills gap in housing design, construction, and installation of new technologies.

It recommends that no new homes be connected to the gas grid after 2025, and that new building standards be complimented with widespread inspection and enforcement, and stiffer penalties for non-compliance.

There are also retrofitting measures outlined in the report, along with finance and funding suggestions, such as green loans to cover the upfront costs of home sustainability improvements.

“We have highlighted the need for appropriate sources of finance and funding, and a national training programme to ensure we have the building and construction skills required in the UK,“ Baroness Brown said.

“Climate change will not wait while we consider our options – the nationwide shift we need to make UK homes climate-ready must start today.“

Image credit: iStock

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