Zero carbon homes by 2016 as green gloves come off

Labour and Conservative made green announcements today. Low carbon homes will be compulsory by 2016. But George Osborne's plans faced criticism.

Labour and the Conservatives both made green announcements today in a bid to seize the agenda ahead of Copenhagen. But progressive voices have criticised George Osborne’s plans.

Housing Minister John Healey announced that Britain will be the first country in the world to require newly built homes to be ‘zero carbon’ as a matter of law by 2016. Speaking to the UK Green Building Council, Mr Healey said that, from 2016, homes will be built with better insulation and ventilation to meet proposed new energy efficiency standards. This will save up to £140 a year in bills. Mr Healey also launched a consultation to gather evidence on how the zero carbon standards could be applied to non-domestic buildings such as offices, shops, hotels and warehouses from 2019.

Meanwhile, George Osborne commenced a series of four speeches by Conservative frontbenchers this week. As reported in today’s papers he announced that they will pay households to recycle rubbish, set up a “green” investment bank, and cut government emissions by 10 percent in a year if they win next year’s election.

But progressive voices have questioned the substance of these announcements with Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband calling Osborne’s latest announcement “about as credible as David Cameron’s photo opp on the glacier.”

Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said:

“A new bank to drive money into green investment is a good proposal. We now need clarity on how the Conservatives would make this sufficiently ambitious to provide the tens of billions needed to create a low carbon economy and develop new green industries.

“We need to encourage long term investment from pension funds and savings schemes to fund clean energy projects.

“What’s missing from the debate is a green strategy for taxation that will reward companies and individuals that reduce their carbon emissions and save resources, and penalise those that needlessly pollute.”

National Coordinator of Labour Environment Campaign SERA told Left Foot Forward:

“Back in 2008 the Labour government introduced the ‘Financial Incentives Waste Pilot Scheme’ which allowed local councils to offer incentives to households that recycled. Sound familiar?

Not only did no Tory councils volunteer to take part in the scheme, but their Party Chairman Eric Pickles is rumoured to have written to every single Conservative council to tell them that under no circumstances should they take part in such a scheme, brandishing it a ‘Bin Tax’ since those who don’t recycle wouldn’t get the cashback and making it a key part of their campaign against Labour in the local elections.”

Last week this blog reported that Andrew Lansley had joined colleague Ken Clarke in opposing an onshore wind farm while Next Left has shown that none of the top ten Conservative bloggers believes the theory that man-made global warming is an established fact.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.