Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced plans to give vouchers to hundreds of thousands of UK homeowners so they can make their homes more energy efficient.
The plans are part of a £3 billion green jobs package and £2 billion of this will be used to make homes more environmentally friendly, such as by installing insulation and replacing old boilers. The plans aim to help drive job growth in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Sunak also announced a £1 billion programme to make schools, hospitals and other public buildings more energy efficient as Britain emerges from the coronavirus.
The package will aim to create tens of thousands of jobs as Sunak (@RishiSunak) seeks to ensure that Britain “builds back greener” and avoids mass redundancies.
The package may benefit bio-based insulation firms if households take up the Chancellor’s grant offers.
Householders can use a variety of insulation material for things like their roofs. A vast majority of foam insulation products are largely produced using petrochemical feedstocks. Foam insulation, a type of plastic in foamed format, can be found in large rigid boards or sprayed in place. Conventional foam insulation generates significant GHG emissions during manufacturing and are not easily recyclable at end of life.
Yet, the use of natural bio-based insulation materials has increased in recent years, largely driven by concerns over the embodied energy and whole-life environmental impact of insulation materials.
In relation to the Chancellor’s announcement, campaigners have been urging ministers to fulfil their manifesto pledge to invest £9.2 billion in energy efficiency to boost jobs and reduce consumer bills and carbon emissions as part of the pandemic recovery.
Rosie Rogers (@rorogers123), head of green recovery of environmental group Greenpeace UK, welcomed the funding but said that other countries were spending more.
She said: “The Chancellor’s £3 billion green stimulus is also much smaller than the £36 billion invested in carbon-cutting measures by Germany and the £13.5 billion commitment from France, as part of their economic recovery packages.
“Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) has calculated that, as the first tranche of the green recovery, the Chancellor should invest at least £15 billion in ‘shovel ready’ projects across the transport, buildings, nature and waste sectors. Further investments will be required later in the year, particularly in the power and transport sectors. Total spending on the green recovery should add up to at least £25 billion additional investment per year over the next four years.
“Last month, Greenpeace launched its manifesto for a green recovery, setting out a detailed plan with transformative policies, tax and spending measures to revive the economy by prioritising clean transport, smart power, green homes, nature restoration and creating a circular economy for waste.”
Commenting on the Chancellor’s statement and the investment in energy efficiency measures, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne, said: “From business groups to environmentalists, the Climate Assembly to Members of Parliament, calls to the Government on greening the economic recovery seem to have resonated.
“I welcome the Chancellor’s £3bn funding of both grants for hundreds of thousands of homes to be insulated; and for hospitals, schools and other public buildings to become more energy efficient supporting green jobs.
“The £2bn allocated to improving energy efficiency in homes does appear to just be a one year funding commitment that the Government has said can make 650,000 homes more energy efficient. There needs to be a long-term, sustainable approach that can help improve the energy efficiency of the 19m UK homes EPC rated D or worse.
“Today’s measures are a promising start – kick-starting the retrofitting of British buildings and the estimated 140,000 jobs this will create.
“It is imperative this momentum is built upon in the Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review this Autumn, particularly as time is running out to make lasting policy decisions that will ensure the UK leads by example at COP26 and meets its own legal commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”