I welcome today's formal launch of the coalition's "Green Deal", a product of a long standing Lib Dem policy that I helped to develop, believing that households should be encouraged and supported to make investments in energy efficiency, cutting their energy bills, saving money in the long run, and helping the environment at the same time.
This also creates employment opportunities for more contractors and registered tradesmen to carry out these energy efficiency upgrades, the upfront costs of this are paid by the energy companies, and the homeowner pays back through a small premium covered by the reductions in their monthly fuel bills. Learn more here
In my work in the European parliament I'm pleased to see similar initiatives particularly in the EU's 2020 strategy aiming to achieve 20% CO2 emissions by the year 2020 - this should be achieved through a range of methods, but overwhelmingly energy efficiency is seen as the big contributor. Stopping waste is easy, and saves huge amounts of money in the long run. We're starting with public buildings, as it's easier for governments to work on energy efficiency upgrades when refitting their building stock, and to get good economies of scale on the contracts they put out.
But initiatives like the green deal make sense for individuals, and the EU is doing all it can to make sure the tools and legal frameworks are right to allow people to take these steps themselves, and get a helping hand from governments or the private sector.
In the Employment committee I'm working on a report into social housing and the financial challenges faced by tenants. The big worry is that fuel poverty is their biggest problem, with energy bills being an increasingly large chunk of people's monthly spending, squeezing budgets for food and other basic essentials.
Rolling out the green deal approach to social housing would be tricky, but in the West Midlands housing associations are already making the most of similar schemes. I want to so see the EU keep up the pressure to make this as easy and accessible as possible, and I congratulate the government on getting this latest program off the ground, delivering a fairer, greener Britain.