After a busy week of manifestos – the answer is common sense!
Blog by Lesley Rudd
It’s been a busy week for printers, political commentators and member organisations like the Sustainable Energy Association as the party manifestos have been rolling out.
First came the Labour Party with a commitment to insulate 4 million homes using interest free loans and improving landlord’s energy efficiency standards, promises to introduce a new clean air act and a promise to ban fracking. On renewable energy production, Labour strengthened its ambition aiming to source 60% of the UK’s energy from zero-carbon or renewable resources by 2030.
The Liberal Democrats matched the Labour Party on insulating 4 million homes and went further in improving the Climate Change targets and restoring the Zero Carbon Homes policy. On clean air they pledged to introduce an air quality plan and also committed to tighten the Climate Change Act targets, aiming for an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2040 and zero carbon by 2050.
The Conservatives manifesto was the last to be published. There was no specific mention of the previous commitment to insulate 1 million homes over the 5-year parliament although there was a pledge to bring all fuel poor homes up to EPC band C by 2030. (The Lib Dems went further making a commitment to bring all homes up to EPC band C.) The Conservatives maintained their commitment to the current goals set by the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement, claiming “we are halfway towards meeting our 2050 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80%”.
All three manifestos recognised the importance of energy efficiency in reducing energy bills and the Conservatives acknowledged that an energy efficient home is a more affordable and healthier home – something the SEA has been advocating for some time. Mentions of low carbon heating were conspicuous by their absence in all three of the manifestos. Although with renewed commitment to the Climate Change Act, a huge contributor such as how we heat our homes and buildings cannot surely be overlooked, and must be part of any plan to achieve these targets. David Cameron’s coalition Government had pledged to be “the greenest government ever” but this is not about being green, it’s about common sense. Wasting energy through leaky buildings and heating them inefficiently makes no sense. Energy efficiency makes good economic sense and we can all agree that using less energy is the best starting point for cheaper bills, healthy homes, a cleaner environment and security of supply. Surely all energy policy must start with this as its foundation. Building on that foundation we need a mix of energy sources but we must remain focused on sustainability.
As Theresa May talks of “a restored contract between the generations” I think not of pensions for the elderly, reduced transport fares for the young or whether we can pass on £100,000 to our children after our social care bills are paid. I think of the most important contract between the generations – the commitment to leave a better environment. Protecting it will bring cheaper running costs and healthier homes for the existing generations and provide a legacy for the next. It’s not “green”, its common sense!
Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association