Warm homes guarantee ‘should be government programme priority’
A commitment to ensure everyone in Scotland lives in a warm home and action to address fuel poverty should be priorities for the Scottish Government, campaigners said today.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will outline her Programme for Government for the upcoming term in Holyrood this afternoon and WWF Scotland has highlighted key areas expected to feature in the Programme that could create jobs, boost the economy as well as tackle climate change.
Promised in the SNP’s manifesto, a Warm Homes Bill is needed to support the rapid growth of district heating and renewable heat in Scotland. With approximately 50 per cent of Scotland’s emissions coming from heating, WWF Scotland said this would bring clean and green warmth to thousands of homes and create new industrial jobs.
Also with fuel poverty deadlines approaching and households wasting cash and carbon heating leaky homes, the charity argued that increased investment in energy efficiency is needed. A goal must be set to ensure no-one in Scotland is living in a cold & draughty home- meeting this would create 8-9,000 jobs spread across the country, with most of those in small and medium-sized businesses, it said.
WWF Scotland have also called for new Climate Change Bill to focus the whole Parliament on climate change, new climate action and energy strategies for Scotland to be delivered by the end of the year.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “It’s expected that this Programme for Government will focus on the economy, and as the First Minister herself has said action on climate change is a massive economic opportunity for Scotland.
“The proposed new energy strategy is an opportunity to spread the economic benefits we are already securing in the renewable electricity sector to the areas of heat and transport, which account for the majority of our energy use. Scotland’s 2020 renewable electricity target has helped create 21,000 low-carbon jobs, and a target of generating half of all of our energy from renewables by 2030 would help drive the same kind of progress in the heat and transport sectors.
“It’s clear that the Scottish economy needs new infrastructure projects and shovel-ready capital investment, but this should be a clean, green economic boost. Investing in the energy efficiency of our homes is the perfect solution. A multi-billion pound investment in ridding Scotland of the scourge of cold homes would create up to 9,000 jobs spread across every part of Scotland and help us achieve our climate change and fuel poverty ambitions.”
The Scottish Conservatives have also urged Ms Sturgeon to make sure fuel poverty is significantly reduced and begin work to insulate properties across the country.
The party committed to warmer homes in the Scottish elections in May, pointing out the range of health and wellbeing benefits the move would bring.
It is thought around one in three households north of the border is in fuel poverty, a figure that increases to 50 per cent for some rural areas. The proposals also help reduce energy emissions and would result in boosting construction jobs across the whole country, including rural areas.
Leader Ruth Davidson will tell the SNP to introduce clear targets to improve energy efficiency, and to spend more money on the National Infrastructure Priority.
Ms Davidson said: “One measure we will be urging (Nicola Sturgeon) to commit to is a guarantee for warmer homes.
“We know it takes additional money and a shift in priorities, but the benefits of such a drive are obvious.
“Quite apart from the environmental impact - which is significant – living in a cold, damp home causes respiratory problems, worsens mental ill-health and creates a miserable living environment for people.
“But by following our proposals for warm homes for all, the Scottish Government could make a genuine positive impact on people’s lives.”