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WWF - UK homes to take at least 100 years to go fully green

It will take over a hundred years to make existing UK homes totally green [1] to meet our international climate obligations at the current rate, warns WWF.

Homes account for 20% of our total climate emission, and the report, recently published, finds that without new policies to make new and existing homes more energy efficient and low carbon these emissions which urgently need to fall if we’re to tackle climate change could be actually be 3% higher in 2030 – well below the 10% fall required by the Committee on Climate Change.

The new report Getting the house in order - Priorities for homes in the Clean Growth Plan, shows that the UK Government must urgently increase the rate at which homes are insulated to hit our climate targets. There is public support for this, shown in new polling carried out by Populus [2] on behalf of WWF finding that 86% of people believe that saving energy in the home is important, and 69% of people are likely to check energy costs before buying or renting a home.

With the UK on track to fall short of its climate change targets by as much as 30% by 2025 the UK Government is expected to publish a plan in September outlining how it will reduce UK emissions to address this and meet our international obligations, such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This ‘Clean Growth Plan’, must triple the speed at which we’re insulating [3] existing homes, to ensure that four million are improved by 2025 [4]. However, currently there is no support from Government for the majority of people to make this change. WWF’s poll found that 72% of people would insulate their homes if there was a government subsidy available, showing that there is a public appetite to make this change.

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Energy and Climate at WWF said:

“This report brings home the huge challenge we face if we are to meet our climate obligations. This winter too many people will be living in cold homes that leak and waste energy. This is piling hundreds of pounds onto people’s fuel bills, as well as damaging their health, and is ruining out planet.

“Last year was the hottest on record. And with extreme weather and flooding costing lives and livelihoods from Bangladesh to Texas, we are all seeing the effects of climate change. It is real and it’s happening now. The UK Government needs to take seriously their international obligations. Stopping climate change should start at home – in fact, it should start in people’s homes. The Clean Growth Plan must prioritise giving support to people to make sure their homes use as little energy as possible; otherwise, our homes really will cost the earth”.

Insulating UK homes to the recommended standard [5] by 2025 would not only save the equivalent emissions of taking 1.7 million cars off roads, but would wipe over half a billion pounds from domestic energy bills each year - equivalent to £25 per household, and as much as £165 for the homes where improvements are made. As well as tackling emissions it would make homes warmer and healthier, and double the rate at which fuel poor households are lifted out of poverty.

This is especially important as WWF’s new polling shows that 46% of people often have to turn off heating due to the cost of energy.

In the report, WWF is calling on the UK Government to deliver a robust and urgently needed Clean Growth Plan. This plan must address public concerns and it needs to:

  • Set a long-term target to improve the energy efficiency of all homes
  • Fix loop-holes that will allow landlords to continue to rent out the coldest properties
  • Tighten standards to  prevent the continued construction of high-carbon new homes
  • Provide new incentives to encourage householders to make improvements to their homes
  • Fund future fuel poverty schemes from capital budgets and double annual funding in England to enable the fuel poverty eradication target to be met

John Alker, Policy and Campaign Director, UK-Green Building Council:

“Decarbonising the building stock is crucial to tackling climate change but the current lack of policy certainty is undermining business confidence and investment. The upcoming Clean Growth Plan is an opportunity for the Government to set out a clear and ambitious vision for transitioning to a low carbon economy over the next fifteen years.

“Achieving the UK’s carbon targets will mean retrofitting more than one home every minute and building high quality new homes which produce as much energy as they use. With the right long term policy framework these objectives can drive innovation in the construction industry and offer huge opportunities for new markets and jobs in energy efficiency. Low carbon buildings will be warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, helping to drive productivity for businesses and transform the lives of residents.”

For further information, please contact:

T: 01483 412383 | E: press@wwf.org.uk

About WWF

WWF’s priorities for the Clean Growth Plan can be found here

Getting the house in order – Priorities for homes in the Clean Growth Plan

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.

[1] By reducing their carbon emissions to zero, if the current rate at which we fit existing homes with insulation and low-carbon heating continues. All countries emissions will need to hit zero in order to meet the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement and limit global temperature rise to well below 2C.

[2] Of 2000 UK people

[3] Improvements such as loft, cavity and solid wall insulation

[4] Current policies will improve just 1.5 million

[5] By the Committee on Climate Change

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