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Housing: Carbon Emissions

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what plans the Government have to establish a standard definition for zero-carbon with regards to housing; and if she will make a statement; (201803)

(2) what discussions her Department has had with HM Treasury on defining zero-carbon for the purposes of housing; and if she will make a statement.

In the Building a Greener Future policy statement, published on 23 July 2007, we committed to consulting on the definition of zero carbon homes from 2016. In the 2008 Budget the Government announced that the 2016 definition of a zero carbon home would be set by the end of 2008 following a consultation in the summer.

Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what representations her Department has received on the comparative carbon dioxide emission reductions potentially available from refurbishing existing housing to higher energy efficiency standards and building new zero carbon housing; and if she will make a statement; (201868)

(2) what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the carbon dioxide emissions from refurbishing existing housing to higher energy efficiency standards; and if she will make a statement.

The Government anticipate that, in order to meet the long-term carbon reduction target set out in the Climate Change Bill, substantial reductions will be required both from new and existing homes. A number of studies have been undertaken on the potential in each of these. In particular:

In 2007, following analysis published by my Department (http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/reviewsustainability), the Office of Climate Change published its analytical slide pack on household emissions (http://www.occ.gov.uk/publications/index.htm). This estimated that existing policies (including zero carbon homes) would reduce carbon emissions by some 45 million tonnes carbon dioxide (MtCO2) per year by 2020 and that there was further potential (not from existing policies) to reduce emissions by some 47.5 MtCO2 per year (including some 11.7 MtCO2 from measures with a payback of seven years or less).

In 2007, following consultation, my Department published the "Building a Greener Future" policy statement (http://www.communities.gov.ukypublications/planningandbuilding/building-a-greener) and accompanying regulatory impact assessment, which estimated that our policies on revising building regulations towards the zero carbon standard will save some 2.7 MtCO2 per year by 2020 and at least 15 MtCO2 per year by 2050. A further consultation on the detailed definition of zero carbon will follow later this year.