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Reducing CO2 emissions at home

I'm making a speech to the Green Alliance on 17 May.

At present the domestic sector contributes to around 27% of total CO2 emissions in the UK - from energy used in homes to provide heating, hot water, lighting and electricity for appliances. 

So housing developers, planners, local authorities and energy suppliers all have their role to play in shaping people's choice - in minimising both bills and environmental impacts.

To hit a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions on 1990 levels by 2050 – the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change –a proportionate reduction of domestic emissions would mean dropping from 42.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in 1990 to 17 million tonnes per year in 2050. 

This means thinking from the roots up about the way we all make decisions about energy consumption and energy efficiency. 

I will be discussing some of the ways to get from here to there in my speech - I'd be really grateful for feedback in the meantime.

Until next week...Happy Easter!

posted on 13 April 2006 12:46 by David Miliband
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# 13 April 2006 14:15 John C wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

You've mentioned this event a couple of times now. Is it going to be open to the public, or is it just for GA members?

I don't have any magic bullets, though I think you're right to say first of all that it includes decisions about "energy consumption and energy efficiency" - it's wrong to focus solely on methods of energy production.


# 13 April 2006 15:36 Mark Maffey wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

I don't think change will happen without legislation - for instance, banning the use of "standby" facilities on all electrical equipment (tv's, cd players etc.). But even this relatively uncontentious solution is out of your power; so in your speech I would be looking for things that you have the power to actually change, rather than the power to influence international or domestic opinion. I'm sure this is blindingly obvious, so forgive for expressing it!


# 15 April 2006 12:17 Ross wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

The report out this week is nothing if not a huge reminder to us of what we could possibly face in the future - temperatures 3 deg. C higher than they are now. Millions of people could be affected by this, and we need action now. The UK should be leading the worldwide efforts to combat the effects of global warming.

I think I'm aware of a government initiative whereby installing certain environmentally-friendly contraptions on your home entitles you to a government grant.. That's all good and well, but we need more help. Energy saving light bulbs are very expensive. I'm from the Ogmore connstituency in south Wales, and there are many people on low incomes in this area. Perhaps we can find a way of lowering VAT on these sort of products as an incentive?? We need to make people realise that their contributions to helping the well-being of our planet are actually make a difference. It may seem like a very small part of the overall spectrum, but every little helps. Unfortunately we live in a day and age where if we don't give [most] people a reason or an incentive to help our planet - then they won't.


# 15 April 2006 21:54 Ellee Seymour wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

I remember speaking to the PR company for a leading UK housing development and suggesting that they should be proactive and build environmentally friendly homes, include recycling facilities, solar panels,, use anything that was environmentally friendly and use this as a strong marketing too. I was laughed at and told they were only interested in making profits. I told them this kind of theme would be legislated and they would have to do it then. Why not be proactive and take a lead? I'm afraid nothing will happen to solve this problem unless it is enforced with legislation. And that means globally too with UN taking a tough stand against continents that continue to flout this issue.


# 17 April 2006 16:21 ezio wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

"shaping people's choice"; is that what new labour sees itself doing? on one interpretation of it, it is an interesting way of thinking about government. on another, it is a soviet way of thinking about government...


# 29 April 2006 14:17 Martin wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

It seems there is a growing need - even from <a href="">ardent supporters of capitalism</a> - that the environment needs greater emphasis.


# 05 May 2006 13:04 Sarah wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

The ways to get there are pretty tried and tested - its insulation, draughtprooofing, efficient heating systems and efficient lighting. The problem is these are not very sexy, so havn't ever really been pushed as they should by Governments.

There are new technologies which tend to hog the headlines - micro-wind turbines and solar panels for example. These will have a role to play of course, but doing the boring efficiency stuff first is crucial.

You also need to be alive to appliances and our innovation in developing new ways to use energy. It was largely Government decisions that have driven the move to digital TV - which means millions of digi-boxes burning electricty. When I bought one I could not find one that I could turn off properly - only leave it on standby. So the Government encouraged us to adopt this new technology - but did nothing to make it as efficient as it should be.

However, I have a deeper problem with all of this. I've never heard a politican who doesn't say these things are what should be done. But equally I've never really seen a politican with the determination to make more than a marginal difference. The same thing goes for reducing car use - we all know it means encouraging walking and cycling, cutting unecessary journeys and shifting people to public transport. The problem is every politician says these things - but the voting public have no way of knowing how enthusiastically you will promote them To put it bluntly its not the fact you support insulation that will convince me, but if you can provide confidence that your policies will not only lead to 100 houses a year having slight improvements in insulation levels, but they will comprehensively insulate the millions of homes we need.

For me to take a politican seriously on this I would want to see a proper plan laid out with milestones, targets and careful monitoring. You should commit to making x amount of progress each year. Having the long term vision for 2050 is great, but let's be honest, you'll never be judged on your performance on that target - even as one of the youngest member of the Government will be long gone (or a perhaps a wrinkly member of the Lords should, God forbid, it still exist by then).

Friends of the Earth are running a campaign which I think is excellent calling for such an approach across the whole climate policy - they suggest a 3% cut in emissions each year is needed, and that legislatioon should make it harder for future Governments to get out of it. If we are to tackle climate change, we know we have a limit to the amount of carbon dioxide we can emit by 2050 or else we will breach the maximum concentration our climate can take without tipping us into an incredibly difficult new climate state. If we have a limited amount to use, lets have a sensible plan about how we use it over the next 50 years, rather than carrying on as we are and finding out we've used up our ration by 2025 and have to stop using fossil fuels virtually overnight.


# 05 May 2006 16:10 Caroline Evans wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

I agree absolutely with what you say, but chances have been missed by the government to be more stringent with building regs re insulation and so on - the Blue Skies grant is finished, etc. But anything to prevent giant wind turbines being imposed on the beautiful uplands of the UK, especially Wales.


# 08 May 2006 11:24 Martin Gibson wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

Dear David

Congratulations on your Appointment as Sectretary of State. I am heartened to know how seriously you take climate change and wish you every success in moving us all forward on this issue.

It was also good to hear the Chancellor recognising the importance of energy use in buildings and transport in tackling this issue. However, we really need to see practical actions now.

On the home front, helping improve insulation in existing houses must be a high priority. The Building Regulations, as you know, only really affect new houses. We need to tackle exisitng housing and commercial stock.

Also, if you could make it easier for home owners who want to use renewable energy to install it, that would be a useful step. I would like to put in a solar water system but have found the information available does not help me make a decision. For example, simply being given a list of suppliers doesn't help me understand what is critical for the success of a system or what sort of costs to expect.

On the transport side, you will really have your work cut out for you in trying to get the Department for Transport to focus on reduction of fossil fuel use. That must be one of the key climate change issues.

Good luck and, as a Green Alliance member, I am looking forward to your talk next week.

Best regards,

Martin Gibson


# 08 May 2006 22:32 Patrick Bellew FREng wrote:
re: Reducing CO2 emissions at home

Changing building regs is important but it is the existing building stock that is the bigger problem - subsidy initiatives have never and will never really make the kind of impact that is needed. If there was a way of avoiding the seemingly inevitable costs of new (nuclear?) power stations by forcing through really significant domestic efficiency upgrades and reducing demand hugely you would avoid the lost "opportunity cost" that will otherwise certainly occur and reduce emissions at the same time. (cf work by Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute). Just compare the £60Bn cost of cleaning up after Nuclear with the recent announcement of £80m for the follow up to Clear Skies. Get real!