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Government fails to lead on energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is the main way that we can cut carbon emissions fast (also saving us money while we stay cosy and warm). So it’s a big disappointment to read in this morning’s Guardian that, despite the government’s ambitious plans and positive rhetoric, energy efficiency in public buildings is dismal.

Less than one per cent of public buildings get an A rating for efficiency, with 17 per cent getting the bottom G grade. City Hall in London, which opened just six years ago, scores a paltry E, despite the architect’s claims that it would be a ‘virtually non-polluting public building’.

Equally depressing is the news that ambitious plans to make a ‘bold statement to the nation on government commitment to renewable energy’ by powering Parliament by wind, sun and tide are being cut back. Even the plans to install double glazing are in doubt.

Whatever happened to leading by example? This seems to be a classic example of ‘do as I say, but not as I do’. What a waste of a great opportunity for generating some useful economic activity in the face of the credit crunch. I’d much rather see an investment in making all our public buildings more energy efficient – and the jobs and technology development that involves – than large sums squandered on a VAT cut.

Maybe it’s up to us to lead by example. Let’s show the government that we believe the sensible reaction to the triple whammy of impending recession, climate change and oil prices that are almost certain to rise over the long term, is to cut those draughts and keep the heat in. Maybe then they’ll follow suit…

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