25 May 2011

Call for amendments to Energy Bill

I wrote to our MP Neil Carmichael a while back re the Energy Bill. Well I didn't get a great answer so I've written again - you can also send an email calling for him to support crucial amendments to the Energy Bill by clicking here for the Friends of the Earth campaign. Click read more to see my letter.

Thank you for your letter but it does not give me confidence that the Government is understanding the urgency. The recent strong cross-party support for stretching Climate Change Act targets in line with independent advice from the Committee on Climate Change is extremely welcome. It reinforces the need to act urgently and decisively to end our dangerous dependence on high carbon, high risk energy and to cut massively the energy waste in our homes and communities.

The Energy Bill is a key opportunity for the Government to drive the transition to a low carbon economy. The Bill is still much too weak to deliver the change needed.

Please can you support amendments which many, including campaign groups like Friends of the Earth, are seeking:

1) Councils and community action on climate change

Trailblazing councils have shown that coordinated action in our communities is a cost-effective way of cutting carbon. Greener travel, clean power and energy efficiency all boost emissions cuts, and ensure that tackling climate change is good for local people as well as the planet. The Government says that councils are 'pivotal' in helping to meet UK Climate Change Act commitments. But nationwide we need a step-change in action to ensure every council does its bit. Please support amendments to:

* Create clarity: Ministers should ask the independent Committee on Climate Change to advise on what councils need to do in their patch to help meet UK Climate Change Act targets
* Ensure local climate action is a priority: while Stroud has demonstrated some leadership in this, all councils should have a duty to draw up local climate change plans - showing how they will roll out green policies in line with the expert advice

2) Warm homes for all

A comprehensive set of policies for household energy efficiency, with clear ambition, is vital to give certainty for investment and to create new green jobs nationwide. A broad coalition of over 50 charities, businesses, unions, trade associations, and consumer groups is calling for the Energy Bill to be strengthened.

* Please support the 'Warm Homes' amendment for a comprehensive Government energy efficiency strategy for housing, sufficient to meet carbon and fuel poverty targets. It is disturbing that 15.7% of households in Stroud District are in fuel poverty: this must be tackled.

3) Minimum efficiency standard for private rented homes

The Government has recognised that tougher action is needed to tackle the coldest private rented homes and has announced they will introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard from 2018. This is very welcome. The new law could be a bold and significant step forward. However, improvements are needed if it is to have teeth. Please support amendments to:

* Introducing the minimum standard in 2016 - in line with the offical fuel poverty target.
* Protect tenants demanding energy efficiency improvements from eviction.
* Increase the minimum standard over time.

I look forward to hearing from you and your support for these three key amendments.

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Here is the response which does at least address in part the issues I raise. Judge for yourself to what extent:

8th June, 2011
Thank you for contacting me about the Energy Bill.

This Bill is only the first step in the Government’s plans to reshape and renew Britain’s energy system, but it is a clear and substantial demonstration of the Coalition’s determination to be ‘the greenest Government ever’.

Local authorities have an important contribution to make to the UK's carbon reduction targets. However, because of the Government’s commitment to localism and decentralising power, the key is to cooperate with local authorities rather than impose top-down regulation.

The Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Local Government (LG) Group in March, which sets out how the Government and LG Group will work together to encourage councils to participate in national carbon reduction initiatives at the local level. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm from local authorities for the Green Deal, because this scheme could provide local jobs as well as help residents.

In May this year the Government demonstrated its support for the ‘Warm Homes’ amendment. The Energy Minister, Greg Barker, has tabled an amendment that states the formal aim of the Bill. It states that the energy efficiency of residential homes in England should be improved to contribute to UK carbon reduction targets. A new amendment also commits the Government to report annual to Parliament on the specific contribution of the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation, within the context of carbon reduction targets.

The Government has shown that it is committed to improving properties in the private rented sector through introducing a minimum energy efficiency standard for this sector. This is a significant step that will affect more than 680,000 homes in the private rented sector.

I am confident that the Bill’s measures will help the UK to meet challenging carbon reduction targets and tackle climate change. Through my membership in the Environmental Audit Committee, I will work to insure proper parliamentary scrutiny to make sure that these measures are met.

I hope this was helpful. NEIL CARMICHAEL