$1 billion of warm homes

by frog

The have been the usual voices in favour and against the Greens’ decision to back the Emissions Trading Scheme, and I’ll talk more about that later. But I also just saw a media release coming from a different angle from the Director of the University of Otago Wellington’s He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme and Centre for Sustainable Cities has welcomed concessions the Greens have won to the emissions trading scheme.

Professor Philippa-Howden Chapman says of the establishment of a $1 billion fund to insulate every house in NZ as part of the Government’s climate change policy: “This is an extraordinary example of a creative shift in thinking that truly places New Zealand in the twenty-first century.”

“Insulating all houses and reducing fuel poverty by compensating residential electricity users for raised prices should lead to evident health benefits for all New Zealanders.”

He Kainga Oranga has some interesting research on the health impacts of crowding, insulation and heating of New Zealand houses.   Its work suggests that there are 1600 excess deaths in winter when the temperature drops, compared to summer.

This is a similar move to the Dutch, who used the proceeds of North Sea Gas finds to centrally heat all homes in the Netherlands in the mid-1970s and were able to track an associated improvement in life expectancy.

“The present poor energy efficiency of our houses in New Zealand has had serious public health consequences,” Professor Howden-Chapman says. “Many of our homes were built in the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th, when energy seemed so cheap we just used lots of it. With the certainty of climate change, we don’t have the luxury of doing that any more.”

And here’s a view you may not have heard in among all the strategic political noise about game playing:

“This political deal is an example of rational policy making at its best.  It puts in place a policy which deals with bad environmental consequences of energy inefficient houses by insulating them, which has been repeatedly shown to be the most cost-effective policy for reducing climate change.”

frog says