Green support services provider Eaga has commissioned an academic study to explore the best way to tackle climate change without pushing up fuel bills for vulnerable households.
Entitled “Toward an Equitable Climate Change Policy in the UK”, the research was conducted by Dr Gill Owen, a Senior Research Fellow at Warwick University.
It looked specifically at how to protect households at risk from or in fuel poverty as the wider drive toward a low or zero carbon economy gathers pace.
According to charity National Energy Action (NEA) there are currently more than 4.5 million UK households in fuel poverty, where they spend 10% or more of their income to maintain adequate home heating. NEA have also estimated that a 1% rise in energy prices can force more than 40,000 additional homes into fuel poverty.
Dr Owen said: “Climate change clearly poses a major environmental challenge. But what is equally clear is that without a well thought out approach, policies to combat climate change could drive up energy bills and consign even more households to fuel poverty. Any climate change policy must take into account equity concerns and make the very real benefits as socially inclusive as possible.”
“The good news is that if we get it right we have an ideal opportunity to better deliver social justice. Providing vulnerable households with low or zero carbon energy solutions can not only free them from fuel poverty by improving their living standards but at the same time it can cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
Main recommendations from the study include:
- Any plans to use the Climate Change Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, to develop or introduce new trading schemes must include a full assessment of how the costs to low income households could be minimized and the benefits maximized.
- Personal carbon allowances should not be seriously considered as a policy option until the homes occupied by most low income and vulnerable households have been “fuel poverty proofed”.
- Making the homes of all for low income households as energy efficient as possible as quickly as possible is the first priority. To ensure that the benefits do not just go the better off, enabling low income and vulnerable households to gain access to renewable technologies should be a key component of any new policies. For such households, grants would need to cover a very substantial proportion – and possibly 100% - of the costs
- The most equitable way to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy for low income and vulnerable households is through taxation, as better off households contribute more and low income households less than if measures are funded through charges on gas and electricity bills. The Government could alleviate the impact of the Emissions Trading scheme on the bills of low income consumers by using some of the revenue it will receive, from auctioning carbon permits under the scheme, to boost the funds for energy saving.
John Clough MBE, Eaga Chief Executive, said: “The Government recently increased the Climate Change Bill targets for reducing the UK’s greenhouse emissions by 80% from 60% by 2050. Importantly, this positions the UK at the forefront of global environmental efforts - but we must ensure these targets are reached in harmony with the delivery of social justice. This is why we are delighted to have commissioned this hugely important piece of work from someone as recognised and distinguished in the field as Dr Owen”.
A FTSE-250 company, Eaga visits more than 3,000 homes each day delivering improvements such as energy efficient heating, renewables, insulation and advice services. It has more than 4,500 staff based around the UK and from operations in Ireland, Canada and India.
A full copy of Towards an Equitable Climate Change Policy for the UK can be downloaded from www.Eaga.com .
Notes to Editors
- Dr Gill Owen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Management Under Regulation (CMUR) at Warwick University Business School, Chair of the Public Utilities Access Forum, a Non Executive Director of Ofwat and a member of the Government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group.
- Eaga plc is a green support services and outsourcing company. It is also the UK’s largest residential energy efficiency provider.
- Eaga was established in Newcastle in 1990 and operates across the UK and in the Republic of Ireland, India and Canada. It employs over 4,500 people.
- Eaga works in partnership with central and local Government, all six major energy suppliers, local authorities, social housing providers and is increasing its share of the able-to-pay private market.
- Since its inception, Eaga has made a positive difference to over 5 million disadvantaged households across the UK, by installing energy efficiency insulation and central heating.
- Eaga holds the contract to deliver the £1.5 billion Warm Front programme in England, the cornerstone of government's target to eliminate fuel poverty.
- Eaga was recently appointed by the BBC to deliver the Switchover Help Scheme to ensure eligible households can receive help making the switch from analogue to digital.
- Eaga is committed to co-ownership and is one of only a handful of UK organisations where every employee with over a year’s service is entitled to a share in the success of the business.
- Since 2000, Eaga has invested over £3 million in the independent Eaga Partnership Charitable Trust which funds research into solutions to fuel poverty.