Ministers told to get tough on low-carbon energy policy

Low carbon housing at Wimbish in Essex Photo: University of East Anglia

Academics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich are calling on the government to adopt tough new environmental policies.

Energy efficiency experts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are calling for ambitious new government targets to help reduce energy demand across the European Union.

In a new report the researchers call for a 40 per cent reduction in primary energy demand by 2050. The existing target is a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, but the EU is currently on track to achieve only half of this.

The report by Dr Bruce Tofield and Martin Ingham, associate consultants at UEA’s Adapt Low Carbon Group concludes that radically improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings is key to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, and Europe should be leading the way.

Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of Europe’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, so overhauling their energy efficiency represents the greatest opportunity for energy saving and greenhouse gas reduction

– Dr Tofield

The consensus among climate scientists is that global warming above 2 degrees can only be avoided if global greenhouse emissions begin to reduce before 2020. However, current projections show fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase for decades.

Dr Tofield says he agrees with the EU Commission’s Energy Roadmap 2050 that a big reduction in energy demand is achievable and that very energy efficient buildings should become the norm, but he says many barriers remain.