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Climate change is the defining issue of our generation, yet as the shift to a low carbon world gains pace, a number of questions remain.
Many mortgage holders know there's a need for change but are unsure how to get there. Others may not realise the role they will need to play, or the options out there. Yet climate change and the resulting shifting weather patterns we are seeing pose risks to our way of life and livelihoods that must be addressed.
To get to net zero we all need to work together, whether lenders and government, lenders and consumers, or brokers and lenders. Maintaining a flexible outlook to keep adapting, keep learning and keep searching out the latest advice and solutions will be key.
The risk of failure is unthinkable. For those who doubt the role our industry will need to play in the years ahead, the facts are laid out by the UK Climate Change Committee's report ?UK Housing: Fit for the Future?? This report warns that we will need to almost eliminate emissions from residential buildings to reach targets - at present energy use in homes accounts for 16 per cent of total UK emissions.
Current government requirements are that newly rented properties will have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of C or above by 2025 and that measure will eventually apply to all homes.
Increasingly, consumers are becoming aware of the need to decarbonise their homes and looking for products that support this approach so there's real scope for lenders to widen the choices available.
As lenders, it's clear that we need to bring consumers with us on a net zero journey and demonstrate the benefits of making these changes.
We want to lead the way and ensure we are responding to the needs of our members and our broker networks. Being able to demonstrate our purpose and principles by making a direct link between our products and actions is important.
We launched our first green mortgage deals last year in order to benefit borrowers with the most environmentally friendly homes and assist others seeking to cut their carbon footprint.
Crucially, as well as being the right thing to do for the planet, ensuring homes are as energy efficient as possible also makes financial sense for homeowners, and we?re continuing to look at more ways to further support our members.
Solutions will keep evolving, and a ?big ticket change? like investing in a heat pump might not be the best option for everyone. For some, cheaper actions like changing everyday habits or switching to a green energy supplier could make a more tangible difference.
For our part, we?re assessing our own impact and making good progress against the challenging targets we?ve set ourselves to reduce our own carbon footprint, for example our recent move to a new head office which we refurbished to upgrade its EPC rating from D to A.
What is certain is that this is an issue that demands all our focus and working together is the best route to achieving lasting and meaningful change.
Andrew Mellor, Risk Director, Leeds Building Society