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Carbon emission revenues must drive Europe’s renovation wave

By Pauline Pelous
March 04, 2020

Knauf Insulation is calling for the billions raised from emissions trading to be channelled into an ambitious renovation wave that will transform Europe into the world’s first carbon neutral continent and lift millions out of fuel poverty.

Under new reforms, European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) carbon allowances are set to rise fourfold compared to 2017 with revenues received by EU Member States projected to total €165 billion over the next 10 years, says the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), an independent non-governmental organisation.

“Member States now have the opportunity to direct as much as €10 billion towards climate solutions per year and a big fraction of this should be spent on energy efficiency, especially housing,” RAP states.

Building cause 36% of emissions

Knauf Insulation’s EU Public Affairs Manager Katarzyna Wardal says: “The synergy is obvious. Buildings contribute 36% of Europe’s emissions and the ETS was established to reduce emissions.

“Europe-wide energy efficient building renovation has to be top of any list of large scale programmes because it is the most effective long-term sustainable way to achieve Europe’s aim to be the first carbon neutral continent in the world.”

Research by RAP reveals that recycling carbon revenues through large scale efficiency programmes can deliver seven to nine times more carbon savings than raising the price of emissions alone.

Lessons to learn from Czech Republic

A strong example of the effective use of ETS revenues can be found in the Czech Republic where a huge portion of this money has been channelled into a major single-family home renovation programme for more than a decade.

Ondrej Sramek, Corporate Affairs Director for Knauf Insulation Eastern Europe, said: “The programme is run by the Ministry of Environment and is designed to motivate owners to deep-renovate their homes by offering different levels of subsidy ranging from 30% to 50% as well as encouraging people to build new houses to highly stringent Passiv Haus standards.

“This programme was being continuously adapted to include a range of bonuses for elements such as green roofs or grey water management.

“Knauf Insulation has been working with the ministry to promote the programme across the Central and Eastern European region and we hope other governments will soon follow the Czech example.”

Discussion on options for funding the #renovationwave initiated by Renovate Europe and EuroACE today at the Czech Permanent Representation in Brussels

Helping millions out of fuel poverty

Ambitious programmes are also at the heart of the European Commission’s new Green Deal package which has called for the annual rate of energy efficient renovation “to at least double” with a focus on the 50 million Europeans who are living in fuel poverty.

“Using ETS increases to fund renovation has an important social dimension because carbon price increases by companies are often passed onto consumers,” says Katarzyna.

“For those unable to heat their homes, those increases can be devastating. Instead the long-lasting legacy of the emission trading system should be the creation of energy-saving, warmer, healthier homes for the people who need them most.”