February 25, 2024

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U.K. Watchdog Blasts Britain’s Effort for Greener Home Heating

(Bloomberg) — The U.K.’s plan to decarbonize home heating fell far short of targets to drive a green recovery from the pandemic and cut emissions, according to a parliamentary spending watchdog.

Curbing emissions from home heating is a key part of reaching the U.K.’s net zero target. The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme, which ran from Sept. 2020 to March 2021, offered British homeowners as much as 5,000 pounds ($6,893) funding, or 10,000 pounds for low-income households, for the installation of energy efficient improvements.

However, failures in rolling out the program mean it will help just 8% of the 600,000 homes that it initially aimed to reach, according to a report by the U.K’s National Audit Office, which scrutinizes public spending for parliament. It will also undershoot its green jobs target, creating just 5,600 of the 82,500 roles that were initially touted, the report said.

“The aim to achieve immediate economic stimulus through the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme meant that it was rushed,” said Gareth Davies, head of the U.K’s National Audit Office. “As a result, its benefits for carbon reduction were significantly reduced and ultimately, it did not create the number of jobs government had hoped for.”

With roughly 20% of the U.K.’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, the failure of the grant program highlights how crucial detailed policy design will be to actually realize Britain’s ambitious goals to address climate change.

As the U.K. prepares to deliver a home and buildings strategy any replacement for the Green Homes Grant will need to avoid the pitfalls of last year’s model.

“Lessons must be learned from these costly mistakes,” said Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace U.K. “It’s essential, not just to deliver warmer homes that are cheaper to run, but also to slash emissions and tackle the climate crisis.”

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