Green Deal scheme requires 'urgent reform'

Published: 21 October 2013 at 14:14

It’s the Marmite of policies – and Anglia Ruskin climate change expert isn’t a fan

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The Government should consider scrapping the Green Deal, its flagship scheme to help the UK become more energy efficient, according to Dr Aled Jones, Director of Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute.

In his talk “Green Deal or No Deal” at the Retrofit East conference in Cambridge on Tuesday, 22 October, Dr Jones will say that an “urgent reform” of the policy is needed.

In order to meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets, Dr Jones believes the only way to cut domestic carbon emissions by the required 29% is by legislation and compulsory energy efficiency standards.

The Green Deal, launched by the Coalition in January, enables households to install energy efficient measures, ranging from cavity wall insulation to solar panels, with no upfront cost.  Instead the Green Deal loan is repaid through savings made in energy bills over a 25-year period.

To meet the Government’s carbon reduction targets, the UK needs to retrofit 700,000 properties per year.  However, despite being allocated a fund of £244million, only 12 properties have so far had any work completed under the Green Deal finance scheme.

Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute worked with the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on a series of Green Deal trials ahead of the launch.  The trials were to determine how interventions can be most effective in increasing uptake, and which incentives are most attractive.

Dr Jones said:

“Several commentators have called Green Deal the Marmite policy, but it is not a question of love it or hate it.  If Unilever had a similar uptake for Marmite it would have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves almost overnight.
“We need urgent reform of this policy.  The Green Deal does not target the key barriers that individuals face in implementing energy efficient measures, while at the same time putting in place high interest rates and upfront costs for surveys which discourage people from taking action.  
“While the Green Deal could be tweaked to encourage uptake – in particular interest-free loans that can be paid off early – it will never achieve the goal of radically changing the energy efficiency of our housing stock, which is vital for managing rising energy bills, ensuring energy security and tackling climate change.  
“The only way to achieve the scale of change necessary is through legislation and compulsory standards.  The Government should again look at using Energy Performance Certificates as a basis for creating minimum standards for all homes that are sold or renovated.”

The Retrofit East conference is taking place at the SmartLIFE Low Carbon Centre at Cambridge Regional College on Tuesday, 22 October.  For further information, call 01743 290001 or visit www.retrofit-roadshow.co.uk