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Friday, July 19, 2019

How the Tories are abandoning the environmental gains made by Lib Dems in government

The strong focus by Liberal Democrat ministers on environmental issues during the coalition government was all but abandoned once the Tories got into power by themselves in 2015. So much so that new government data shows that efforts to end fuel poverty and energy waste by making the UK’s draughty homes more efficient have collapsed by almost 85%.

As the Guardian says, the report, published on Thursday, shows that the number of energy efficiency upgrades undertaken each month has fallen to 10,000 on average for the six months to the end of May. This compares with an average of 65,000 a month in 2014:

The latest figures show that in May about 10,000 properties benefited from energy efficiency measures, such as loft insulation or boiler upgrades, down sharply from about 30,000 in the same month in 2015 and 2016.

At this rate it would take 96 years for the government to reach its own targets to reduce fuel poverty, according to the charity National Energy Action.

Peter Smith, a director at the fuel-poverty campaign group, said the progress was “a fraction” of what was required to ensure 1.2m homes are renovated each year until 2035.

The paper says that there was a stark warning from MPs last week that the UK has “no chance” of meeting its climate-crisis targets without a major overhaul of energy-efficiency programmes:

A select committee report found that public investment in energy efficiency has shrunk in recent years, even though it is the cheapest way to cut carbon emissions.

It said the government risks undermining its own climate targets unless it treats energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.

Rachel Reeves, the chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, said ministers have “continued to sit on their hands” despite the consensus support for energy efficiency.

“If the government lacks the political will to deliver energy efficiency improvements, how can we expect it to get on with the costlier actions needed to tackle climate change?” she said.

The report blamed a lack of public spending for the falling number of home insulation installations, which have plummeted by 95% from 2012.

It is dispiriting to see all the good work put in by Liberal Democrats ministers unravelled in this way.
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