[C]HRIS MANN: A leading Cambridge academic has called for the Government’s Green Deal to be scrapped. Dr Aled Jones, who’s (from) the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University has delivered a speech in the City today. He says the only way to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions is to increase energy efficiency, (and) to bring in legislation. Aled is with me now. Hello.
ALED JONES: Hi Chris.
CHRIS MANN: So explain that for us please.
ALED JONES: Well basically arguing that the Green Deal which is basically a finance package with high interest rates and up front costs isn’t achieving the goal of getting us, householders, consumers to do exactly that, to insulate. So we need to have a radical rethink about the policy, and put in place probably mandatory standards and other things that will encourage us and actually make us do it, while also putting in place other carrots, and helping us to do it.
CHRIS MANN: So what’s wrong with the Green Deal so to speak?
ALED JONES: The main reason people don’t insulate their houses is hassle-factor, so it’s just too difficult for us to do it; we don’t like clearing our lofts; we don’t like moving plants off walls to get solid wall insulation on the outside. And what the Green Deal finance does is offer you a loan. So people are already averse to taking out loans, and it doesn’t really go to the heart of the problem, which is making it an easier process.
CHRIS MANN: Most people can’t afford solar panels on their roof.
ALED JONES: No, that’s true. So actually having a loan preferably interest free and preferably something you can pay off early, so if you move house you don’t get penalties, or you don’t have to try and sell the Green Deal on to the person who’s buying your house. So the finance is an important part of it. But the problem is it’s the only part that’s now in place. What we need is a whole measure of other packages, and then an interest free loan on the back of it, or a very low rate would be useful. But it can’t be the only thing that’s on offer.
CHRIS MANN: It seemed for a while that this was flavour of the month, that the Government was behind the Green Deal and all, and global sustainability and so on. And they’ve lost interest.
ALED JONES: Well it’s still called the flagship policy for Government on energy efficiency. But it’s so far only delivered a handful of actual finance packages, about twelve on the last count that have happened, out of their target of tens of thousands. So what they’re trying to do is enable us to become much more energy efficient, become much more energy secure. But we need fourteen million homes to be retro-fitted to have insulation. And at this rate it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of years to get there. So we need something which makes this a much more urgent task.
CHRIS MANN: Perhaps an idea of how urgent it is is the statement from Sir John Major today, if people agree with him. And he’s saying that lots of folk this winter will have to choose between eating and heating.
ALED JONES: Yes. Absolutely. So if we don’t get energy efficiency done, which should lower our bills, then we’re going to be faced with this every year, and year on year. So it’s great to have some very short term measure tackling the profits of energy companies. But that doesn’t tackle the underlying long term trend, which is increasing energy bills, and a very energy-inefficient housing stock.
CHRIS MANN: But he’s right then in your view that there is a crisis in the energy market? That’s plain for anyone to see.
ALED JONES: Yes. We haven’t invested in our energy sector for a couple of decades on any scale that would really set us up as a developed country leading the world in energy markets. We just haven’t done that for twenty years at least. So we need to do something radical.
CHRIS MANN: And when I spoke to the Roads Minister Robert Goodwill earlier on about that, he said, well, the Government this week made an announcement about nuclear power. And that showed that they were thinking about the issue.
ALED JONES: They’re thinking about it on a very small scale. They’re heavily subsidising nuclear, which is one of the solutions. There’s so many other solutions, and actually the price they put on nuclear is double the current price. So they’re expecting prices on energy to double over the next ten years. And we seriously need to do the other side, which is energy efficiency. And their current policy on that isn’t delivering.
CHRIS MANN: OK. The bosses of the leading energy firms Aled have been called to appear before MPs next week to explain the price rises.. What point would you put to them? What question would you want the answer to?
ALED JONES: And so I can understand wholesale energy prices are going up, so we are exposed to an international market on fossil fuels, gas and oil, that the only way the prices on there is going to go up over the long term. So we need to be investing in much more local cheaper electricity generation, and the proper grid infrastructure. So the question is why haven’t they done it for the last twenty years, and what is going to make them do it now?
CHRIS MANN: Let’s hope that question gets asked, and answered too. Dr Aled Jones, thank you for joining us.
ALED JONES: Thank you.
CHRIS MANN: The Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.