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When Briton Candida Arvanitakis decided to make her 18th century Italian holiday home more energy efficient, she was pleasantly surprised to find it would cost her next to nothing as Italy is stumping up about 150,000 euros of the bill.

Under a scheme introduced in July last year the Italian government pays an eye-watering 110% of the cost of turning buildings green, from insulation to solar panels to replacing old-fashioned boilers and window fittings.

“It’s a real incentive for people to reduce emissions. I only wish it existed in Britain too,” said Arvanitakis.

The European Union estimates that three-quarters of the buildings in the bloc are energy inefficient. It says renovating them could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 5%, but less than 1% of the region’s building stock is upgraded each year.

Not surprisingly, there has been a massive take-up in Italy’s “superbonus” scheme which is seen as a litmus test for the sort of policies EU members may need to meet the bloc’s goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions this decade to 55% below 1990 levels. 

[Gavin Jones and Giuseppe Fonte]

More: Analysis: Superbonus! Italy’s green growth gambit lines homes and pockets

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