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UK needs higher-quality houses to ward off climate change, says Tory peer

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A former Conservative environment minister has said the UK needs to stop building “crap houses” as part of a plan to eliminate carbon emissions in the UK.

Lord Deben, who heads the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), was speaking during a climate change debate in the House of Lords.

“We can reach net zero. Not net zero merely in terms of carbon, but net zero in terms of greenhouse gases,” he told peers. “We can meet it by 2050 and the mechanism is there.”

He added: “It means action now, it does not mean hanging about, and there is a series of things that we have to do.

“That means stop building crap houses that don’t give the owners a proper kind of energy efficiency.

“It means let’s have the kind of heating that doesn’t need fossil fuels. It means doing something about the appalling situation of our soil.”

Yesterday, the CCC, an independent body that provides advice to the Government on climate change, announced that the UK can put an end to its contribution to climate change within 30 years with reasonable economic cost and using existing technology.

Its plan involves making changes to every part of the economy, including quadrupling the supply of low-carbon electricity by 2050; efficient buildings and low-carbon heating; electric vehicles (which should be the only option from 2035 at the latest); carbon capture and storage; low-carbon hydrogen; stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill; phasing out fluorinated gases; increasing tree planting, and reducing agricultural emissions.

“I don’t care who’s done it. What I care about is what is done and what is now going to be done,” Deben said in the House of Lords.

“Climate change will happen, it does happen. It’s not a threat in the sense of being something that is possible. Unless we intervene it will overwhelm us.

“The deniers have lost the battle because the science is fundamentally clear. The new battle is not to make people believe in climate change. The new battle is to take the steps that are necessary.”

In a direct message to ministers, he said: “We don’t want fine words. What we want is a very direct statement. You asked for this report. You’ve got it. You put it into action.”

Labour former deputy prime minister and environment secretary Lord Prescott said climate change was “an emergency” requiring “fundamental changes”.

He highlighted a “new industrial revolution” taking place in the Humber area, centred on renewable energy.

Parliament’s only Green peer, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, hailed the Extinction Rebellion campaign as a “breath of fresh air” and the group’s tactics as “legitimate and highly effective”.

Lady Jones said: “It has drawn the climate and ecological emergency to the forefront of political debate and moved it from whether all this is happening to when we can start to deal with it.”

She condemned existing targets for cutting carbon emissions to zero as “unambitious and shockingly weak”, insisting that greater urgency was needed to deal with the current “terrifying state of affairs”.

Responding to the debate, Energy Minister Lord Henley said: “I believe that we and all other parties and other governments have achieved a great deal.

“We have demonstrated to the world how emission reductions can be delivered whilst at the same time growing not only our own economy, but the economies of other countries in the world.”

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