Fuel poverty levels could cover 50 per cent of the population within five years and 75 per cent within a decade if a properly co-ordinated energy policy is not developed, according to architect and television presenter Duncan Stewart, when speaking at the recent Energy Action conference in Dublin Castle. He also questions if the €400 million spent each year of fuel allowances is being spent in the right way.
There is no integrated approach between government agencies and departments and the use of coal is particularly wasteful as 80 per cent of the energy generated goes up the chimney and it creates twice as much pollution, through carbon emissions, as gas. He says that the margin for reducing carbon emissions was extremely limited and buildings would have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden for reducing them further, compared with sectors such as transport and agriculture, yet we still lacked an adequate survey of building stock.
He calls for carbon tax to be ring fenced and used for the purpose intended. Some €6 billion a year was spent on oil imports. A similar amount spent on developing alternatives would create 120,000 jobs, as well as helping to address our balance of payments and overall financial problems.