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Interdisciplinary Research Centre

Sophus O.S.E. zu Ermgassen1, Michal P. Drewniok2,3,4, Joseph W. Bull1, Christine M. Corlet Walker5, Mattia Mancini6, Josh Ryan-Collins7 & André Cabrera Serrenho3

1University of Kent, 2University of Bath, 3University of Cambridge, 4University of Leeds, 5University of Surrey, 6University of Exeter & 7UCL 


  • The primary government response to England’s housing affordability crisis is to build 300,000 new homes per year
  • Using embodied and operational emissions models we estimate the government’s business-as-usual housing strategy consumes England’s whole cumulative carbon budget [1.5°C] by 2050
  • Other strategies for meeting society’s housing needs are theoretically possible, but they face a challenging political economy
  • ‘Growth-dependencies’ in the housing sector mean social welfare risks declining if house prices and construction rates fall
  • Solutions include decarbonising the existing housing stock through rapid retrofitting, and policies disincentivising the overconsumption of floorspace


Our study models the effects of the English government's housing policy and estimates that it risks consuming the entire national cumulative carbon budget consistent with 1.5 °C warming. It also demonstrates the urgency of retrofitting the existing stock, as retrofitting all existing homes and decarbonising the grid so homes are zero carbon by 2050 could save 38% of the cumulative carbon budget for 1.5 °C relative to a business-as-usual scenario which extrapolates current decarbonisation trends whilst achieving the government's construction targets. 

Science Direct publication: "A home for all within planetary boundaries: Pathways for meeting England's housing needs without transgressing national climate and biodiversity goals".

Image credit: John Lockwood