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

Sophus O.S.E. zu Ermgassen, Michal P. Drewniok, Joseph W. Bull, Christine M. Corlet Walker, Mattia Mancini, Josh Ryan-Collins, André Cabrera Serrenho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Secure housing is core to the Sustainable Development Goals and a fundamental human right. However, potential conflicts between housing and sustainability objectives remain under-researched. We explore the impact of current English government housing policy, and alternative housing strategies, on national carbon and biodiversity goals. Using material flow and land use change/biodiversity models, we estimate from 2022 to 2050 under current policy housing alone would consume 104% of England's cumulative carbon budget (2.6/2.5Gt [50% chance of < 1.5 °C]); 12% from the construction and operation of newbuilds and 92% from the existing stock. Housing expansion also potentially conflicts with England's biodiversity targets. However, meeting greater housing need without rapid housing expansion is theoretically possible. We review solutions including improving affordability by reducing demand for homes as financial assets, macroprudential policy, expanding social housing, and reducing underutilisation of floor-space. Transitioning to housing strategies which slow housing expansion and accelerate low-carbon retrofits would achieve lower emissions, but we show that they face an unfavourable political economy and structural economic barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107562
JournalEcological Economics
Volume201
Early online date22 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Biodiversity Net Gain
  • Financialization of Housing
  • Growth-Dependence
  • Infrastructure Sustainability
  • Material Flow Analysis
  • Net Zero

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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