UK net zero targets at risk from inequality, says L&G

by Reuters
Wednesday, 20 October 2021 12:00 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Solar panels on homes reflect the sun in Stoke on Trent, Britain February 10, 2017 REUTERS/Darren Staples

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Britain runs risk of creating two tiers: one where more affluent communities can benefit from new green, clean technologies and another where poorer communities do not

By Muvija M

Oct 20 (Reuters) - Britain's plans to hit net-zero emissions risk being derailed by income inequality, with only higher income households able to afford new green technologies unless costs are shared, financial services provider Legal & General said on Wednesday.

Its research, published less than two weeks before the COP26 U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, said the average UK household has a funding gap of over 4,000 pounds ($5,500) on the installation of solar panels. The funding gap on installing a ground source heat was nearly 15,000.

Households making less than 20,000 pounds a year were particularly slow to adopt green tech, the report found.

"Currently, the UK runs the risk of creating two visions of Britain: one where more affluent communities benefit from the green and clean technologies of the 21st century, and another where less affluent communities do not. Climate transition cannot be restricted to the better off," Legal & General CEO Nigel Wilson said.

"If the UK is to successfully hit its carbon neutral target by 2050, this transition needs to take place in a socially inclusive manner."

The research showed consumers were open to making green modifications to their homes, with 52% very or fairly willing to install solar panels and 54% happy to install a ground source heat pump.

But households were willing or able to contribute just 13% of the costs associated with installing solar panels and 10% of the costs of installing a ground source heat pump, it found.

To fill that funding gap, costs needed to be shared between households, local authorities and central government, Wilson said.

"We cannot build healthy and prosperous communities without building and retrofitting infrastructure which reduces emissions, improves air quality and access to green jobs," he added.

($1 = 0.7271 pounds) (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, editing by Sujata Rao in London and Philippa Fletcher)

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