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Cambridge MP says engineering solution alone won’t solve climate emergency - and clashes with minister over insulation

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has said that “just an engineering solution” is not the way to resolve the climate crisis.

The government announced its ‘Green Day’ proposals on Thursday – policies to help the UK reach its environmental targets.

How carbon capture and storage, though large-scale tests have been inconclusive as to its value. Picture: PA Graphics
How carbon capture and storage, though large-scale tests have been inconclusive as to its value. Picture: PA Graphics

The proposals included a new drive for nuclear power, support for hydrogen projects, a Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund, home insulation – and has renamed the Energy Company Obligation Plus (ECO+) scheme as the ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’.

A new emphasis has also been placed in carbon capture – a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere. The government promised a “world-leading commitment to carbon capture usage and storage”. It announced eight projects but no new funding for carbon capture beyond the £20bn it had already set out – all but £1bn of which will not come until the next Parliament.

The technique is still in development: a study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) showed “underperforming carbon capture projects considerably outnumbered successful ones by large margins”.

On Friday, Labour MP Mr Zeichner attended a Cambridge Festival event on chalk streams.

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Keith Heppell

Speaking at the David Attenborough Building, he said: “I will always support anything that helps us out of the climate crisis, but the answer can’t be just an engineering solution. I hope for the best with the new proposals but the most basic thing is that 19 million homes in the UK need to be insulated.”

Earlier in the week, in the House of Commons, the Cambridge MP clashed with former Cherry Hinton councillor Graham Stuart, now Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Mr Zeichner challenged the government’s record on home insulation. In September 2022, an analysis from a think tank, the Institute for Government, revealed that the UK has the least insulated homes in Western Europe, losing an average of three degrees Celsius every five hours in cold temperatures.

Mr Stuart defended the government’s record and insisted it was making progress.

Calling the government’s record on home insulation “ the worst in the region”, Mr Zeichner said: “The minister is a former Cambridge councillor. I would hope that he would be aware that we have a lot of older homes, and that it is obvious more action is needed than the proposed plans.

“Labour’s Warm Homes Scheme would properly insulate 19 million homes, bringing down energy bills over the long-term and making houses warm and comfortable for the whole year, not just part of it.”

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