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MPs call for 'war effort' to improve insulation

Time and date:2010-12-5 17:23:32  author:Press center7   source:Press center9  view:  comment:0
Content summary:Report says opportunities were missed last summer to improve the energy efficiency of homes and save money on gas. network

A cross party group of MPs have called for a "war effort" to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes.

In a far-reaching report, the Environmental Audit Committee says a "window of opportunity" was missed last summer to get more homes insulated.

The report also recommends a faster move away from fossil fuels, with greater focus on tidal power and wind turbines onshore.

78% of the UK's energy needs are still being met by burning fossil fuels.

"We must fix our leaky housing stock, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and wastes our constituents' hard-earned cash," says Philip Dunne, the Conservative MP who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee,

"There have been significant missed opportunities in recent months: the Government could have gone further and faster"

The UK has some of the leakiest homes in Europe and progress to improve them has been slow.

It wasn't always that way. The number of energy efficiency annual installations peaked in 2012 at 2.3m thanks to government subsidies, but after David Cameron slashed support numbers fell, with fewer than 100,000 upgrades installed in 2021.

The MPs call for more money to be spent on insulation with the target of 2.5m homes being upgraded each year by 2030.

"The Government has committed £6.6bn this parliament and a further £6bn to 2028 to make buildings more energy efficient," a government spokesperson said, in response to the MPs report.

The spokesman said the government had also launched a new energy saving campaign, raising awareness of simple actions people can take to bring down the amount of energy needed to keep homes warm this winter.

The MPs also called for the fossil fuel industry to do more to reduce the emissions it produces during oil and gas production. The routine flaring of gas should be banned outright, they say, with more demanding targets and greater transparency.

There was clearly not agreement among MP's on the merits of recent controversial new fossil fuel projects.

The report simply calls for a "clear end date" for the new oil and gas licensing rounds in the North Sea so the government can "continue to demonstrate its international climate leadership".

In recent months, the government has infuriated environmentalists by approving a coalmine in Cumbria and green-lighting new oil and gas exploration. Both decisions are at odds with the recommendations of climate scientists and the United Nations that there can be no more oil, gas or coal if the world is to have any chance of keeping temperature rises under 1.5 degrees.

The government argues that North Sea gas will have a lower carbon footprint than importing gas from abroad.

In the last decade the UK has seen a rapid expansion in clean energy with renewables now making up about 40% of domestic electricity generation. Offshore wind is the biggest and most rapidly expanding contributor but on land it's become increasingly difficult to erect new turbines.

The MPs report calls for greater focus on the quick roll out of onshore wind and a closer look at the potential of tidal energy.

"Bold action is needed now," Mr Dunne said.

"The last year, with Russia's aggression in Europe choking energy supplies, has shown us just how vulnerable our over-reliance on imported fossil fuels can make us."

pursue Jonah on Twitter @jonahfisherbbc

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