FoE also campaign for social justice here in Britain. The next Labour Government will face the challenge of the delivering secure supplies of energy which are both affordable and low carbon. Friends of the Earth commissioned Professor Sir Michael Marmot to gather the evidence of impact on health of living in cold homes, as part of their Warm Homes campaign. His findings were stark: cold homes lead to death and distress. Avoidable death is 3 times higher in cold homes than in warm homes. Living in a cold home is linked to:
• heart and lung disease
• children’s respiratory problems
• adolescent mental health problems
• poorer educational attainment
• poorer diet as people must choose between food and fuel
• poor circulation and decreased mobility leading to an increased risk of accidents
In contrast, countries with energy efficient houses have fewer ‘Excess Winter Deaths’ and energy efficiency can bring local jobs and economic benefits
At our meeting on October 31st, Simon Bowens, the WY regional organiser for FoE said:
“If Labour is successful in May 2015, Caroline will have a key role in ensuring the quality of life of these future generations.
We welcome Labour making energy efficiency a major commitment, and declaring war on cold homes, but for that to be effective we think they must considerably raise ambition and commit additional investment to develop infrastructure. We would like:
• 4m homes insulated to EPC C by 2020, including 2m low-income homes with fully-funded grants
• All 6m low income homes insulated to EPC C by 2025
• All UK homes to that level by 2035
• A robust and enforceable minimum standard in the private rented sector to achieve EPC C by 2026.
The advantages would be:
• The creation of over 100,000 jobs,
• A net return to the Treasury,
• A considerable reduction in NHS costs
• An average home saving £300 a year in energy bills.
We are pleased the Labour Party is are proposing taking a much harder line than the current government on private rented sector, but they need to make laws robust and enforceable.
We support Labour’s commitment to build new housing with improved standards – though we warn about regulations being watered down in face of pressure.
We welcome Labour’s commitment to renewable energy but a new government will need to make sure renewables are at the centre of their energy policy. Solar could be cheaper than gas within a few years and the UK could be an offshore wind power house. We also welcome Caroline’s support for our demands to allow schools to borrow to invest in solar which, when implemented, will go a long way to ensure that renewable energy is in the heart of our communities, bringing jobs and opportunity.
FoE believe we need to make the shift away from fossil fuels. Fracking, they say, should be banned. The oil and gas industry will say that fracking and unconventional gas provides a bridge to a renewable future – FoE see things differently: that fracking provides a prop for a destructive fossil fuel industry that acts as a brake on investment.
If Labour is successful in May 2015, said Simon, then Caroline will have a key role in ensuring the quality of life of these future generations – we need to act now and with greater urgency than ever before if we are to leave a clean and healthy planet for our children and our grandchildren.
Interested in Friends of the Earth (FoE)?
• The Huddersfield FoE group meets monthly at Coffeevolution and actively campaigns in the local community. For more details go to http://huddersfieldfoe.wordpress.com/
• Simon Bowens is the Yorkshire and Humber campaigner for Friends of the Earth. For more details go to http://www.foe.co.uk/page/yorkshire-humber
• You can also subscribe to a monthly email bulletin on the latest environmental news in the region by contacting Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org