Thank you to all the constituents that have contacted me about cleaner heating and green homes. My Labour colleagues and I agree with you that we need greater action from the Government in this area.
As you know, the UN has warned that we are seeing unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate and that urgent action is required to drive down emissions in this decisive decade if we are to have any chance of limiting warming to close to 1.5°C. I therefore share your concern that we are not meeting this situation with the speed and scale of action it demands.
I believe this is evident in the Government’s approach to domestic heating. UK homes contribute around 15% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and are much worse insulated than those in Europe. Yet the Government scrapped its Green Homes Grant just months after it was set up, its long-promised heat and buildings strategy is still to be published and there is no proper plan for retrofitting houses. In contrast, just this month, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the next Labour government would retrofit 19 million homes within the next decade.
In its 2021 progress report to Parliament, meanwhile, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) reported that there had been “little of the necessary progress in upgrading the building stock”, that insulation rates remained well below the level achieved up to 2012 before key policies were scrapped and that the rates of heat pump installation were far below what is needed. Indeed, emissions from buildings are higher now than in 2015.
I note that Greenpeace has recently published a report showing that a properly funded plan to insulate homes and swap gas boilers for low-carbon heating sources could deliver “huge economic and social benefits”. If the current energy situation and the impact of rising gas prices on household finances does not provide evidence enough of the need for retrofitting our housing stock to increase energy efficiency, the report makes clear the benefits this would provide for jobs, the economy and the planet. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to support calls for action on this issue.