Councils in the Highlands & Islands have made some progress to cut climate-changing pollution but much more needs to be done, MSP Eleanor Scott said today in response to a recent report on energy efficiency. (1)
The Communities Scotland progress report on Home Energy Conservation Act details the extent to which councils are or are not meeting their own targets for improving energy efficiency in homes. As well as tackling fuel poverty so that everyone has a warm, dry home, the targets are in place to ensure carbon emissions are cut.
Highlands & Islands MSP Dr Scott, whose colleague Shiona Baird has lodged a bill to improve energy efficiency in homes, said, “There has been some progress – Highland in particular has slashed carbon emissions by an admirable 20·7% – but there remains a lot to do before councils can claim they are making significant contribution in the battle to slow down climate change. Orkney comes within the bottom 10 councils in Scotland having reduced emissions by only 8·6% from 1997 to 2003. This figure really must improve. (2)
“Shetland and Western Isles also come in the bottom 10 and need to do better. Shetland has cut 9·3% of emissions, while Western Isles Council has managed 9·8%. Argyll & Bute have managed 10·5% which is slightly more commendable, and Moray has done well with a reduction of 14·7%. However, I think the central problem here is a lack of funding from the Executive – and I appreciate that councils have limited resources available to improve these figures. However, this does not let local authorities off the hook. Home energy use account for 30% of total UK energy consumption so it should be a key area for investment and should be prioritised by government at local and national level.
“Ultimately, to help councils make more speedy progress, we need a national target and strategy so there is co-ordinated Scotland-wide action. That is why Greens have lodged a bill calling for this. There are some initiatives, including the Executive’s Warm Deal, that are making a slight difference – but the approach at both the national and local level is piecemeal and inadequate. A target and strategy would help focus efforts and ensure councils receive more support.”
- Argyll and Bute – 10·5%
- Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – 9·8%
- Highlands – 20·71%
- Moray – 14·68%
- Orkney – 8·65%
- Shetland – 9·33%
3. Facts and figures on domestic energy efficiency:
“A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) on all household fuel use.”
(Scottish Executive: The Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement, 2002)
Fuel poverty harms health. Flu, heart disease and strokes are all made worse by the cold. Cold homes can also lead to an increase in fungi and dust mites, both of which exacerbate conditions such as asthma.
In Scotland in 2002/3 the excess winter deaths figure was 2,510, (National Energy Action). Fuel poverty particularly affects older people, those with a disability or long term illness and young people.
The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS), 2002:
- an estimated 286,000 households, some 13%, are fuel poor
- of these, 24% (69,000) are in extreme fuel poverty (they would have to spend more than 20% of their income on fuel).
- around 131,000 (6%) of dwellings are affected by some form of dampness. Condensation affects around 229,000 (11%) of dwellings and mould growth is found in 233,000 (11%).
The domestic sector accounts for 30% of total UK energy consumption and therefore produces a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2002, the UK domestic sector released 40·4 million tonnes of a UK total 166·3 million tonnes. (Defra: Carbon dioxide emissions by end user 1970-2002)
The cost of energy inefficiency
The Energy Saving Trust states that nearly £5 billion is wasted on energy in the UK every year. This is enough to give every man, woman and child £84 a year. (www.est.org.uk/index.cfm)