Over recent months we have heard much talk of the governments 10-point climate change plan and have seen elements of it, such as the introduction of the Green Homes Grant (see our comments on that here). This month, we finally have the full list of 10 areas of focus. Read on for our explanation of the plan and what it means, if anything, for landlords.
The 10 Points
- Advance Offshore Wind – This is good, during storm Bella 50.7% of the nations electricity need was wind generated and those using 'time of day' tariffs like Octopus Agile were being paid for every unit of electricity they used as there was more electricity being produced than was needed. As we move forward, if we can generate more of our needs, more often this will have 2 major benefits.Firstly, it will reduce our imports of oil and gas which is good for the economy and second, our homes need to be less green if the only energy they use is wind generated – so it is cheaper than a wholesale conversion of our housing stock.As landlords this is good news but does not let us off the hook completely.
- Grow hydrogen usage – converting boats and trucks to hydrogen is easier / cheaper then replacing them with electric alternatives but hydrogen takes a lot of electricity to produce. But if point 1 above is successful then that may be a good way of using excess electricity that we generate.
- More nuclear power – can argue this one either way, but when the wind don't blow, would be good to have an import free, fossil fuel free alternative
- Accelerate shift to zero emission vehicles – great. Electric cars are easier to drive than petrol / diesel and result in much reduced pollution, don't believe me? Try one.
- Green public transport, cycling and walking – for me this one does not fit. If 2 & 4 succeed, our problems go away but we will still have congestion. We could invest in 21st Century solutions or we can demonise people for driving their car. Unfortunately, the cheap option is the latter.
- 'Jet Zero' and green ships – jet fuel is not great for the environment and the dirty, sulphurous mess emitted by ships is a disgrace. Whether they switch to electric or hydrogen we don't care, but it needs to happen faster than it is now
- Greener buildings – Unfortunately, this is probably the least ambitious of the 10 points, the least thought through and the most important. The typical older house needs a 24kW gas boiler, a typical new house can operate quite happily with a 6kW ASHP (Heat Pump). To switch from gas boilers (which produce 28% of our emissions according to some measures) to ASHP or similar requires massive investment in insulation of existing houses – think 'tea cosy' insulation from below ground level, up the walls and over the roof without gaps or joins and then add heat recovery and similar ventilation to allow internal wood to breathe without undue damp and mould. Current plans in this area are in the dark ages compared to progress on nearly all of the other points.
- Carbon capture, usage and storage – largely targeted at decarbonising the existing power system and those industries like steel which are particularly damaging
- Protect our natural environment – well Boris needed 10, who ever heard of a 9 point plan?
- Green finance and innovation – Can argue this both ways, we need to find a way to encourage and fund the changes needed but conversely, trading in carbon credits does nothing to improve the global situation and simply allows companies to game the system.
So in summary, not much new news here and little new investment – but if the UK can move forward in these areas and set a good example of next years global summit, then it is to be commended overall. When it comes to housing, there is much to be done and unfortunately no articulate focal groups to move the issue forward. Maybe we rely on government for direction and leadership to often and this is an area where we just have to get on with it, conversely the total lack of evidence on what actually is best practice is holding things back, but more on that next month….Enter your text here ...