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Insulate homes to meet COP27 promises and give urgent help to Britons

Will Hodson

Will Hodson

Consumer champion and founder of How to Save It

A global pandemic, war in Europe and a cost of living crisis. The attention of governments around the world have been pulled every which way as one ‘unprecedented’ event has reared its head after the other.

But as leaders of nations and business gather in Egypt for the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, for a rare moment, the world’s focus will briefly fix on climate.

Every year, these gatherings generate a sense of hope. They proffer a solution to global temperature rises and climate change, all thrashed out over just two weeks of intense negotiations.

Good policy does emerge from these discussions – but with only seven countries or institutions on track with their COP promises on fossil fuels, that hard work can feel like a drop in the ocean.

Insulate Now for the Long-Term

Whilst this is frustrating, I can understand why countries are falling behind. If I found myself as Prime Minister, I too would be racking my brain for ways to mitigate the effects of the cost of living crisis.

The short termism of party politics does not help. Voters want to see delivery on promises and when it comes to environmental policy, success can feel intangible and hard to measure. When families are struggling to heat their homes, pay for food and budget for unpredictable bills it is understandable that the cost of living is the government’s priority. Focusing on how much carbon we burnt last month instead of supporting Britons with energy bills wouldn’t win them any political brownie points.

But this dichotomous thinking that pits climate policy against ‘more urgent policy’ such as relief with energy bills, is dangerous. Policy makers need to recognise that strategies to lower our carbon footprint need not distract from the here and now – and in fact, they complement one another.

How to Save It is advocating for a National Insulation Scheme, to tackle the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis together. Britain has the oldest housing stock in Europe which is something to be proud of, we built houses to last. But they are also the draughtiest. With one third of carbon emissions in the UK coming from heating draughty buildings, this is a problem we need to address.

Further benefits

Implementing an insulation scheme offers a solution to the cost of living crisis that doesn’t sideline climate commitments, quite the opposite. At How to Save it, we have calculated that an average household can save £600 on their energy bills each year through just installing loft insulation as well as 1.2 tonnes of carbon.

An insulation scheme also has the added bonus of protecting us from energy shortages and promoting a more secure energy supply in future. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has thrown our reliance of foreign supply into question. Yes, we will always need external sources of energy, but insulating our homes and in turn reducing our usage will strengthen our national energy security.

The climate emergency is not only an environmental issue. It is predicted it will cost the UK 3.3% of GDP by 2050, and on top of that it will displace one billion people around the world, cause health complications and even more catastrophic weather events. It will touch all of our lives.

Cutting corners on climate policy now will only come back to bite us in the future. With a third of carbon emissions coming from heating draughty homes, policy makers have a once in a generation opportunity to cut the UK’s footprint whilst helping people through the winter and protecting future generations against global warming. It’s a policy that makes economic, environmental and political sense.

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