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Commenting on the release today (Thursday 29 November) of official figures showing that last winter there were 500 excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland (the difference between the number of people who die in the winter compared to the rest of the year) Friends of the Earth Campaigner Declan Allison said:

"It is a disgrace that thousands of our homes are so poorly insulated that people living in them struggle with their energy bills

"Living in a cold home has a dreadful impact on our health – and tragically hundreds of older people die every year as a result.

"The Assembly must take action to tackle this homemade humanitarian disaster by ensuring we all have warm and energy efficient homes which are cheaper to heat. This will cut fuel bills, save lives, and create jobs.

"Rocketing prices have sent fuel bills soaring in recent years. Finance Minister Sammy Wilson’s scrapping of two energy efficiency programmes, and the Executive’s decision to ignore the Assembly’s overwhelming support for the Green New Deal will have a negative impact on some of the most vulnerable in society."


1. Excess winter deaths statistics can be found here.

2. The World Health Organisation Europe (page 82) estimates that approximately 30 per cent of excess winter deaths can be attributed to cold indoor temperatures. Applied to today’s figures this means that 150 people have died due to cold housing during the winter months (Dec to March) 

3.Evidence commissioned by Friends of the Earth from Prof Sir Michael Marmot at UCL show that not only do cold homes make ill and kill older people but they have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of children and babies:

·     More than 1 in 4 adolescents living in a cold house are at risk of multiple mental health problems, compared to 1 in 20 teens who have always lived in warm homes.

·     Cold, poorly heated homes have a significant impact on children's health, affecting infant's weight gain and development and increasing the frequency and severity of asthmatic symptoms.

·     Living in a cold home negatively affects children's educational achievement, emotional well-being and resilience, which can worsen their life chances and increase health inequalities.

·     Older people living in cold homes are at higher risk of death and illnesses like heart and respiratory disease.

·     Living in a cold home worsens existing conditions like arthritis and rheumatism and increases the risk of colds and flu.

4. Friends of the Earth is a founder member of the Green New Deal group

5. Mr Wilson scrapped the Energy Efficiency Homes scheme, and the Low and Zero Carbon Homes scheme in 2011

6. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently.

For further information, please contact Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland on 028 9023 3488.


Published by Friends of the Earth Ltd