Madeleine Cuff writes about the vulnerability of British homes but the same can be said for many countries. What are your views?
Lockdown has revealed ‘vulnerability’ of UK homes to climate threat, government advisers say
The battle to stay cool at home this week is just a “taster” of things to come unless urgent steps are taken to retrofit buildings, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said.
With up to half of working adults across the UK now working from home, this year has been a test of how well the country’s homes function in the heat. During a cool summer, about one-fifth of UK homes overheat, Government statistics show.
Wednesday was officially the hottest day of the year, with temperatures topping 32C in some parts of the country. The Met Office issued a heat alert, warning vulnerable people were at risk from heatstroke if they couldn’t keep their homes cool, and home workers complained the temperatures meant they were struggling to concentrate.
“We’re experiencing in real time our vulnerability to some of the climate impacts I’ve been warning about,” CCC CEO Chris Stark told reporters.
Similar problems lie in wait if there is a winter lockdown, which could see people confined to cold homes that leak heat. For many vulnerable or fuel poor households, such a situation could prove fatal.
“The number one investment priority we see is in housing retrofits,” Mr Stark said. “We need buildings to be energy efficient, water efficient, and we also need them to be protected against the increased risks of overheating as the climate changes.”
Retrofit work would involve rolling out insulation and green heating technologies to keep homes warmer in winter, as well as improving ventilation and using plants for extra shade to keep homes cool in the summer.
The scheme would help cut the country’s carbon emissions, and also provide employment and training opportunities for people out of work because of Covid-19, the CCC argued.
A green economy
Other measures to green the UK economy, such as tree planting and electric vehicle charge point installations, are necessary to get the UK to net zero emissions, it said.
The Government said it agreed “tackling climate change should be at the heart of our economic recovery”.
“We believe that the actions we need to take to achieve our zero emissions target can help to deliver a stronger, cleaner, more sustainable and more resilient economy after this pandemic – and already there are over 460,000 UK jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains,” a spokesperson added.