Tackling the climate crisis and cost of living crisis in tandem

31 May 2022
Comments 8
Category FrontPage, News
31 May 2022, Comments 8

By Hannah Eves, A Rocha UK’s Researcher

While oil companies rake in record profits of over £100bn, average energy bills in the UK, per household, are expected to rise by £1,500 this year. The financial impact on the poor and vulnerable will be crippling, and the number of those in the UK in fuel poverty will double to an estimated 12 million. This will have a ripple effect on the health, nutrition and wellbeing of people across the UK as they choose between eating or heating their homes. It is a huge injustice.

But the idea that we cannot afford to tackle the climate crisis in the midst of a cost of living crisis is misleading. The truth is that there are significant things that we can do to tackle these crises in tandem. And we cannot afford to delay action on the climate any longer.

There is a very insidious myth that going green will cost us more – that a green lifestyle is more expensive – and there are some very powerful companies lobbying against sustainable energy. They have worked very hard to sell the story that going green costs, and, significantly, that it will cost you. Some solutions do cost more upfront than the average person can pay but once in place would lead to significant savings – ground-source heat pumps for example. If people can be helped with the upfront costs, the ‘climate solutions’ will be adopted faster and the savings will help with the cost of living crisis. 

To take another example, a comprehensive home insulation plan funded by the government would mean that we use less energy to heat our homes. This would reduce carbon emissions and save money – it is estimated that proper insulation could save UK households £1.3bn per year. And an ‘insulation rollout’ would create jobs which would help with the cost of living crisis.

There’s more. Moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy will make us less dependent on the skyrocketing cost of fossil fuels on the international market. We are not as dependent on Russian oil and gas as other countries but we are still vulnerable to financial shocks on the fossil fuel market. Most forms of renewable energy can be harvested locally in many places around the UK – wind and tidal energy in the North Sea for example – so jobs could be created in many locations. Phasing out fossil fuels is critical if we are to keep warming as close to 1.5 degrees as possible, and moving away from fossil fuels will, ultimately, reduce both the cost of living and carbon emissions.

Finally, to some, access to green spaces may seem like a luxury when the nation is battling a cost of living crisis. However we also know that nature has huge benefits for our mental health and wellbeing. The government should work to restore and protect nature so that everyone, rich or poor, can access nature close to home. That will create more jobs in the green sector and increase our carbon storage capacity. 

Going green will not just help us to avoid catastrophic climate change – it will save money and create a fairer and better future for everyone.

The IPCC report released in April 2022 said that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43% by 2030. We can’t afford to wait until the cost of living crisis is over. We must act now to find solutions for both. The burden cannot be placed on those who have to decide between eating or heating. The government must lead the way and use its legislative and tax powers, and budgets, to make it easier and cheaper for ordinary people to do the right thing for the environment.


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8 responses on “Tackling the climate crisis and cost of living crisis in tandem

  1. Jenny Braithwaite says:

    This seems a clearly presented article. Please may I lift it and use in a church (Quaker) newsletter?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Jenny, thank you for getting in touch. Please do share, if you can kindly include the following: This article was written for A Rocha UK’s June 2022 eNews and is reproduced here with their permission.

      With thanks and best wishes,

      Jennifer

  2. Kevin McElhone says:

    This is all very good,
    but how does anyone force Heritage England to allow listed buildings to have double-glazing or other insulation so they can be used in 21st Century as is our Church Building, rather than simply saying no to every suggestion for solar panels or anything else we have asked about since 2014 ?

    I think the rules will have to be changed.

  3. Jean Tyers says:

    I think that is a good point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Ann Williams says:

    Thank you for this thought provoking article. We do indeed have little time to spare and can all do something ‘green’
    You are right that big companies have given ‘going green’ a bad press – since the 80’s, which a staggering thought. What differences could have been made in that time!
    But we can all cut back on our fuel consumption – without going cold. Smart meters have also had some bad press, but are very useful to see just where your pennies go, mounting up and becoming pounds so quickly. However, just having a shower instead of a bath, reducing the thermostat a little and wearing an extra layer, turning off lights and appliances when not in use – all these reduce costs.
    And reduce food costs…This is another area where big companies have done us a disservice. Buy a chicken and make at least two meals from it – and soup from the carcass. We waste an alarming amount of food – just spare a thought for those who have nothing but a bowl of porridge once a day – and that probably made with water, not milk.

  5. Simon Roper says:

    Everyone who can afford to install home renewable technology is making an impact in their own energy bills. By generating and using your own electricity you are reducing demand for fossil fuel generated power. Less demand will eventually bring the cost of energy down for all users. The cleaner and greener the grid becomes the more everyone benefits.

  6. Fenella Monk says:

    Yes! Planners must change their ruling that solar panels on church roofs must not be visible from the ground. Every available roof should be used to generate free energy from the sun. Yes, the initial cost is high, but long term there’s a financial reward. But if we do nothing to combat climate change there won’t be a long term. The government needs to bring back subsidies for renewable energy projects, NOW, before it’s too late.

  7. Michael Norman (Mike) Dent says:

    It is (sadly) true, that much of the existing housing stock presents problems to energy-efficiency. I live in an Edwardian end-terrace, and have put in all of the additional insulation practical; unfortunately, the very large end wall cannot have external insulation fitted – its surface is the boundary! the front cannot be so treated – it is in a Conservation Area! I cannot do internal dry-lining – the reduction in width would too-far reduce the staircase width, denying me my stairlift!
    I have solarPV; an Air-Source Heat Pump. fitted with Solar Boost; Under-Floor insulation; full LED lighting; a fully-insulated attic and loft; comprehensive draught-proofing and trickle-vents. The only remaining measure practical would involve material for which I have ben unable to find testing results – thin-film microbead plaster! If you have any further suggestions, I would willingly pursue them, as well as bringing anything appropriate to my Church (Beverley Minster) and its community.
    Such issues as I have indicated are often ignored or excluded by lack of available research – an attitude which, inthe current socio-political environment, should be encouraged to change, for the sake of the Creation that surrounds us all.