While our government prevaricates and even cancels our shovel ready Green Homes Insulation fund, the Australians and the Irish have announced ambitious plans of their own. The Irish Times reported today:
HOW TO cut heating bills, reduce carbon emissions and create thousands of jobs in the construction sector in the process? The Government, through its national insulation programme, has pointed the way. At a cost of €100 million in 2009, this investment in greater energy efficiency is worthwhile. It makes sense for the taxpayer and the householder. It is good for the environment and it provides a small but significant boost for the economy that is set to contract sharply this year. As Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan said in launching the initiative: “this insulation programme saves energy, saves money and creates jobs”.
The €100 million scheme will, it is expected, employ 4,000 people and benefit some 50,000 homes this year. It consists of two grant schemes, each receiving €50 million. Beneficiaries will be those in private middle- income and private low-income homes, including local authority houses. The country’s housing stock amounts to 1.7 million homes. One million of these houses, it is estimated, need some retrofitting to achieve energy savings. Although funding for the current scheme is not yet guaranteed for 2010, the economics of the insulation programme are compelling.
That sounds an awful lot like the insulation scheme the Greens won as part of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) negotiations, which would have been funded by the windfall profits of the SOE electricity generators as a result of the ETS. John Key can say all he wants to about it being unfunded, but that is simply not true. (audio link, post-cab)
I am pretty confident that when the government announces their infrastructure scheme tomorrow, it will contain something of a re-hashed and re-branded Green insulation scheme. The question is, will it be bold enough? As all governments have recognised, the economic benefits of warm healthy homes are irrefutable. The numbers stack up. So why is it so hard for the government to admit that they got it wrong?