The green retrofit of the world's existing housing stock is one of the most important tasks to be carried out before 2050, if we are to reduce our emissions to meet the Paris Climate Agreement target of keeping below 1.5°C.
Emissions from homes account for between 25-27% of global emissions (according to Eurostat).
In the UK alone, to retrofit every home before 2050 will require a rate of 19,000 homes to be retrofitted every week, for the next 30 years. A tall ask.
Globally, this programme of work is too important to fail, so it makes sense to conduct a thorough review of how different countries are approaching the problem to highlight opportunities to learn from one another.
In the previous article about the UK Green Homes Grant, I focused on the successes and failures of the UK grant scheme for green housing retrofits.
This article I compare the findings of the previous article with a similar scheme currently in operation in France. It is hoped that by studying the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different schemes (both of which have the same core goals), lessons learnt can be shared to applied to similar schemes globally.
France green home retrofit policy (MaPrimeRénov)
Since 2020, the new grant-based system (MaPrimeRénov) superseded the previous tax credit-based system (Crédit d’Impôt de la Transition Énergétique - CITE).
The system has the follow defining characteristics:
- applicants apply for funding through the web portal,
- the amount of aid you can receive depends on two factors:
- your taxable income (for a reference year 2019),
- the potential energy savings that could arise from measures on your home.
- MaPrimeRénov grants typically cover up to 40% of the retrofit bill. Lower income families may be entitled to more cashback - with three categories of less well-off households, 60%, 75%, and finally 90% for the most modest.
- all owners and landlords can apply for the grant, but it must be their primary the home must be more than two years old.
- the company carrying out the work must be Reconnues Garantes de l’Environnement (RGE) accredited.
Positive aspects of the systems
- The scheme in France has proved very popular indeed, over 150,000 applications were registered in the first 12 months of the scheme, over 1,000 households are applying for funding every day. The demand shown is forcing more and
- these numbers are despite the lockdowns being endured by the French population. In fact, some report that this has fuelled more interest in the scheme. This is contrast to the quotes from the UK Government
- Funding is paid to the installers upon completion of the project, and in some cases installments are paid during the project.
- The application process is relatively simple. The amount of money that can be claimed (for each retrofit measure) is clearly laid out on the website.
- One of the core benefits of a green homes grant such as this is that the demand increases the number of jobs available in the sector. As evidence of this, France has seen a sharp increase in the number of building companies rushing to gain the accreditation to make the most of the demand. There are seven organizations in total approved to issue the accreditation. One of which Qualit'EnR reported a 35% increase in applications of builders to be accredited in 2020. The output is an expanding workforce gaining skills and experience in green retrofit projects and employing more and more staff geographically spread throughout the country (not focused in traditional economic centres).
Continued investment in 2021
Whilst the UK Government has drastically reduced the amount of funding set aside for the Green Homes Grant in 2021 (from €2.32 billion in 2020 to just €372 million in 2021), the French Government has drastically increased the funding set aside for the MaPrimeRénov programme in 2021. In 2020, joint funding for the two schemes MaPrimeRénov and CITE amounted to €740 million. In 2021 the French Government has put aside €1.7 billion, the same amount that was spent on the CITE scheme in 2018.