The basic issue, as most people are already aware of, is that the UK needs to cut its carbon emissions and a lot of the energy we produce comes from our domestic energy consumption. And the most effective way of reducing these carbon emissions is to make our homes and workplaces more energy efficient.
To quote former Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne:
" Britain has some of the oldest building stock in Europe. Our draughty homes are poorly insulated, leaking heat and using up energy. As consumers, we pay a high price for inefficient housing – and so does the planet. A quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions comes from the energy we use to heat our homes, and a similar amount comes from our businesses, industry and workplaces."
"Saving the planet" has been one of those issues that the majority of people have known we need to do more on in this country for years and, it is probably fair to say, not done very much about. The basic problem seems to be that people agree it needs to happen, but were unwilling to spend to help acheive it. Perhaps the downturn in the economy over the last 4 or 5 years is what has lead to people suddenly starting to take notice; when we had more money, saving it didn't seem such a priority. Now we have less money, saving it has taken on greater significance.
Taken form the Government's proposal on implementing the Green Deal:
" At a local level, the Green Deal will enable many households and businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their properties without consuming so much energy and wasting so much money. At a national level, the UK needs to become more energy efficient to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions which risk dangerous climate change. The Climate Change Act 2008 legislated for a reduction in our carbon emissions, compared to 1990, of 34% by 2020 and on our way to 80% by 2050. It set legally-binding carbon budgets for our country for the next 12 years across all sectors of the UK economy - including our homes and communities, and our workplaces. Reducing demand for energy through eliminating waste cost effectively is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. Three quarters of the energy we use in our homes is for heating our rooms and water, most of which comes from gas-fired boilers. Together this accounts for 13% of the UK’s CO2e emissions while our workplaces are responsible for 20%. To help meet the carbon budgets we need to cut emissions in our homes and communities by 29% and by 13% in our workplaces by 2022 (on 2008 levels). To do this we need to make our homes, communities and workplaces more energy efficient, and heat and power them from low carbon sources. Support through the Green Deal for implementing energy efficiency measures will play a key role here. The Green Deal will deliver energy saving packages to millions of homes and businesses across the country. Consequently the scheme provides opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour; from assessment to installation, manufacturing to supply, over the length and breadth of Britain, for many years to come. By ensuring a high uptake of energy efficiency measures in households and business, the national demand for imported gas could be reduced considerably. With more than a third of our gas currently imported and UK gas production on a downward trend, the net result could be a saving on imports at a national level."
Whether the Green Deal will really work in practice is yet to be seen, but the scope for success is significant. The aim is to be more energy efficient at the personal, industrial and national levels with the aim of creating work by offering incentives to the populace to review the way they consume resources.
In our next entry, we will be looking at what all of this actually means for the consumer.