The party has revealed that aside from the Mayor of London, the following fourteen authorities have agreed to pilot the scheme being called the "Green Deal": Broadland, East Sussex, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hyndburn, Kensington & Chelsea, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, North Tyneside, South Holland, Suffolk, Westminster, and West Sussex.
David Cameron has given an interview which is splashed across the front page of this morning's Guardian to coincide with Gordon Brown's arrival at the Copenhagen summit (for which he is missing today's PMQs, the last before Christmas).
The Tory leader is quick to warn politicians against lecturing people on climate change or seemingly leaving themselves open to charges of hypocrisy since they are "in danger of starting to lose people":
"If the environmental agenda becomes limited to well-suited politicians stepping out of aeroplanes on to tarmacs, telling people how to live their lives and sounding like everyone else will just have to sit in a darkened room, wearing woollies with the lights turned off and the heating down, we are not going to get anywhere.
"People do not like being lectured. You have to take people with you, and the way to do that is to connect individual behaviour and rewards, and help people see the advantages of going green. We have to have carrots as well as sticks."
He goes on to announce a new Conservative policy which would see major retailers and energy firms help people "green" their homes.
Around six million households would get access to up to £6,500 worth of energy efficiency measures under the partnership scheme, which would see companies such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer lagging lofts and insulating walls. The resulting savings in electricity bills would then be shared with householders over a minimum 15 to 20 years.
The party calculates that a household where a partner organisation provided an initial investment of £1,500 for a basic package of measures could expect to see savings of £360 a year on its heating bills. Households saving that much would need to pay £120 back towards the initial outlay, but would keep the remaining £240 a year for themselves.
Mr Cameron says that he has already signed up a number of councils, as well as London Mayor, Boris Johnson, for the scheme, and that he would want the policy launched "from day one of a Conservative government, with councils actually going house to house, street to street, to identify the areas, the homes and the people that would most benefit and would get on with doing most quickly".
He also used the interview to indicate:
- His belief that the political declaration agreed at Copenhagen must not allow warming to go above 2C, that it must include a proper mechanism for funding adaptation for poorest countries, and that it has got to have a proper policy to protect rainforests.
- That he would try to turn any political agreement reached at Copenhagen into an internationally legally binding document as quickly as possible.
- His support for the £1.6 billion offered by Gordon Brown on behalf of Britain to help with adaptation among developing countries, so long as it comes from the aid budget.
Footnote from Tim Montgomerie: Shadow Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark has written for ConHome today about the 'adaptation funding' under discussion at Copenhagen. He argues that it is something of a victory for those sceptics, like Lord Lawson, who think it wiser to invest in preparing for extreme climatic events rather than those who insist all action must be directed to stopping climate change. It is a convincing piece.