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Britain's home front must go green, study

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The UK's domestic carbon footprint could be reduced by 80 per cent by 2050, and a good start can be made using existing technologies, according to a report from an Oxford University academic.

Brenda Boardman, a senior research fellow at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, said that reducing emissions from people's homes would be "crucial" in meeting the tough targets set out in the Climate Change Bill.

"The bill calls for at least a 60 per cent reduction, which is great, but this report shows that you can get an 80 per cent cut in the domestic sector by 2050," she told the BBC. "It is crucial because it is large. Depending on what year's measurements you use, it accounts for about 25-27 per cent of all the UK's carbon emissions."

In a report commissioned by the Co-operative Bank and environmental group Friends of the Earth, Boardman outlined the key measures the sector needs to take, including legally binding targets for reducing CO2 emissions. She also recommends financial incentives, such as stamp duty rebates for insulated homes, reduced VAT on energy efficient goods and so on.

She also suggests that new homes be built in urban settings, to increase the density of housing and encourage the take up of so-called "micro generation systems". These micro combined heat and power systems generate electricity and heat locally. Research from the Carbon Trust found that these can cut carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent for some businesses, and "certain types of housing".

Boardman added her support to government plans to require every new house built after 2016 to be zero carbon. Zero carbon is defined as having a net carbon emission of zero, over the course of a year.

But she cautioned that 80 per cent of the houses we will inhabit in 2050 are already built. Making new build greener is part of the picture, she said, adding that more must be done to improve efficiency of existing housing stock as well. Ministers had failed to tackle this issue, she said. ®

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