The Abundant Fossil Fuel Energy


We have already benefited, over many generations, from abundant fossil fuel energy. Only recently it has been realised the damage it is causing, damage that will fall disproportionately on poorer nations. The moral imperative is inescapable, in the first place - for us in the developed world to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, and also - to use our wealth and our skills to assist poorer countries to develop sustainably.

It was in 2006 the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time Gordon Brown pledged that every new home will be zero carbon within 10 years. This announcement in his pre-budget report was also accompanied by other aims in which the UK can reduce carbon emissions. In his speech he wanted to "set a long-term framework for curing carbon emissions from homes" which accounts for 30% of all emissions. This will involve stamp duty exemption for "the vast majority of new zero carbon homes" for a limited period. Existing homes was also an issue, in which he pledged to tackle energy efficiency in existing homes, which is a key part of building's 99% Campaign to reduce carbon emissions in the existing building stock. He stated that he wanted energy audits on existing home and to "offer low loans that would in time, because of low energy bills, pay for themselves." In addition to these points he also stated the government is setting aside more Brownfield land for house building, which will increase the number of new homes on Brownfield land to 130,000.

The Challenge, in which the UK has to deal with, is firstly climate change and also the built environment which are in the front line of the battle to cut our carbon emissions as far as possible. At the moment the way we use and construct our buildings and homes in the UK account for on average 45% of our total emissions. Most if not all buildings constructed today will be still standing by the year 2050 and it is essential to "stop the rot" by ensuring that all new build housing and buildings are as energy efficient as possible and meet their energy needs from renewable energy sources. The targets the UK has for reducing CO2 emissions are by at least 60% by 2050 and between 26-32% by 2020, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has pointed out that a target of 80% should be met by 2050 which needs to be achieved for the UK to become a low carbon country. 2016 is a milestone in the UK as it is the date which has been set by which all new homes must be built to "zero carbon".... taken that this figure was originally taken in 2006 it has also been hard hit by the subsequent economic downturn and the credit crunch.

To achieve such a high percentage by 2016 there are numerous barriers in to which stand in the way of designing and building energy efficient housing. Technical and design barriers are one of the main considerations when looking at the feasibility of zero carbon homes in the UK. House builders in the UK tend to use a range of standard house sets across their developments to help reduce costs and defects; they are reluctant to adopt policies which require excessive design changes. The perceived increase cost of achieving high building standards associated with zero carbon homes is a hurdle for house builders, to which they have to overcome the existing cultural, design and technical challenges. Taken into account these factors and also the current cultural and technical concerns towards sustainability, it is clear that in this current financial climate the government is likely to face several challenges in achieving its zero carbon homes objective.

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