Energy Bill is not tough enough

Rising fuel prices are hitting people hard in the current economic climate, with more than five million UK households now thought to be suffering “fuel poverty” – including one in three older people.

The cheapest and quickest way to cut fuel bills is to insulate our homes, and in December the government introduced an Energy Bill to Parliament with the intention of reducing both carbon emissions and the impact of fuel costs.

The Bill will become law by July, and contains a new energy efficiency initiative, the Green Deal, which should come into force next year. But at the moment the government is relying purely on the market to deliver the Green Deal and is reluctant to quantify, even in outline, what it is actually supposed to achieve.

A diverse coalition of organisations, from Stop Climate Chaos to B&Q, from Grand Designs to Asda, says that as it stands the Energy Bill is simply not tough enough.

The purpose of the Green Deal needs to be more clearly defined, with minimum goals to eliminate fuel poverty by 2016 and cut carbon emissions at least 42 per cent by 2020. In particular, homes in the private rental sector need to be improved significantly. In many cases these are the coldest and hardest to heat but are often ignored, and the group suggests the Bill should make it an offense for the worst-insulated of these to be let out after 2016.

The campaign is calling for a Warm Homes Amendment to the Bill, to make the Green Deal not just about providing finance and creating a market, but a genuine energy reduction programme, to ensure widespread improvement across homes in the UK.

If Gazette readers want to help to make this happen, they should write to their MPs, asking them to support the Warm Homes Amendment. – Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party.