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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 11:41 GMT
Call to demolish polluting homes
Energy inefficient homes need to be demolished, researchers say
Eighty-thousand houses need to be demolished yearly for the next decade if the UK is to meet its climate change commitments, research suggests.

Such demolition of older houses built to low environmental standards would be four times the current rate, Oxford University researchers said.

It would mean the replacement of about 14% of homes, with 220,000 new homes built and others improved.

The government plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050.

The government said the report was "timely" and that it was committed to improving energy efficiency in homes.

'The 40% house'

Just over 25% of Britain's carbon dioxide emissions come from housing - either from fossil fuels burned in the home or the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels.

Climate change is a present and serious problem that needs to be tackled - and what better place to start with than our homes
Lord Whitty
At present, there are about 24 million homes, with about 180,000 more built each year. Only 20,000 are demolished.

The 40% House report - so-called because of the aim to cut emissions from homes by 60% - comes from Oxford University and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research.

It was delivered on Wednesday at the Royal Society by its chairman Lord Whitty, minister for farming food and sustainable energy.

He said the report would be examined as the government reviews whether its interim target of a 20% cut in emissions by 2010 was on schedule.

Recent improvements

"Climate change is a present and serious problem that needs to be tackled. And what better place to start with than our homes," he said.

The main message is that we can do it
Gavin Killip
Environmental Change Institute
He added that improvements had been made in recent years, with minimum standards for energy performance in new buildings being raised.

The report recommends action for government, the European Commission, manufacturers and householders to cut carbon dioxide emissions - the main greenhouse gas.

Existing homes would receive wall or loft insulation and many should adopt solar panels, the researchers recommended.

"The main message is that we can do it," report author Gavin Killip, of the Environmental Change Institute, told the BBC.

"It's not a hair shirt picture of the future - people will still have labour-saving devices but they need to be more efficient."

The report says laws should be introduced to save energy in the home and building regulations for new homes must be enforced.

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