Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Insulating every home relatively cheap says Stern

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 December 2008 at 12:26 pm

Insulating every home in the UK would be relatively cheap compared to what the Government has spent shoring up the banking system, according to Lord Stern. In a festive change to the normal BBC Radio 4's Today programme agenda of haranguing politicians, guest editor Jarvis Cocker took a look at how the climate and financial meltdowns are connected.

Not only was it more relaxing to listen to than your usual Today programme interview, but the former Pulp frontman got some great stuff out of Lord Stern (the author of The Stern Review of the economics of climate change). I just hope that Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband were listening.

First he pointed to lessons we can learn from the financial crisis for the climate crisis:

  1. the longer we let risks fester, the bigger the impact, crash and consequences
  2. we have to collaborate
  3. there is a real opportunity here, which is very attractive when you look closely at it.

As an example of the third lesson he pointed to the 'tremendous opportunities' if all the unemployed housebuilders and construction workers were to get to work insulating the UK's old housing stock (an idea not a million miles away from those outlined in the Green New Deal).

Stern's off the cuff estimate of how much it would cost to insulate every home in the UK was 'a few billion'. Peanuts compared to what's gone into propping up the banks, or to use his words: 'It's fair to say that the amount we have to spend on climate change in the sense of cutting back on emissions looks quite small, at least relative to the amounts we're putting in to shore up the banking system'.

He finished off on a note of optimism, pointing out that the UK has committed to 80 per cent reductions in carbon emissions by 2050, and Obama plans to set the same target. I hope he's right, and that the government is busy with its new year's resolutions... Let's get started!

Photo: thetripwirenyc


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


3 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 8 January 2009 at 2:17 pm

Hi Phil. Yes, I agree, that Stern's figures for insulation costs were very ballpark. Insulation was just an example that Jarvis plucked out of the air. But Stern's assertion that the amount we need to spend to effectively cut carbon emissions is so much less than has been put into shoring up banks was thought out and serious - and worth highlighting. Of course, insulation is just one of many answers. But it is quick, effective, and in many homes cheap and easy to do.

report abuse


chrisComment left on: 8 January 2009 at 9:57 am

I agree phil, however the government is showing at least some dedication to insulation. Various grants are now available, and most households can recieve at lease SOME subsidy on the costs involved in becoming more energy efficient.

report abuse


philclarkComment left on: 3 January 2009 at 4:01 pm

It was a really interesting chat. I actually think though that the bit on insulation was the weakest part. He seemed to pluck that figure out of the air and I'm not sure how useful it is. Insulation is surely only part of the answer as well. We need community energy for areas on top of these programmes.

report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.