William Eichler 03 February 2022

Government at risk of missing net zero target

Government at risk of missing net zero target image
Image: Studio Harmony/Shutterstock.com.

The Government’s approach to decarbonising residential heating lacks clear direction and is unlikely to help meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target, MPs say.

A new report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has urged the Government to bring forward a heat decarbonisation sector deal to help develop low carbon heating technologies.

It also called for a scaling up of the heat pump market to meet the Government’s target of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 and for more support to gas boiler engineers who need to re-skill to undertake this work.

The committee welcomed the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme announced in the Heat and Buildings Strategy, but criticised the strategy for not setting out how heat decarbonisation targets will be met and what contingencies are in place if the target is missed.

‘Replacing gas boilers is a huge task and we are not making anywhere near enough progress. As it stands, we will miss our net zero target. The Government must act urgently to help speed up delivery and support bill payers and workers who will be affected by the change,’ said BEIS Committee chair Darren Jones.

‘Bill payers today are deeply worried about their energy costs, with many people struggling to afford to heat their homes. Most people don’t realise that their gas boiler will need to be replaced within the next 10 to 15 years.

‘The Government and energy companies should explain to bill payers why switching away from gas and insulating our homes is not only important in tackling climate change, but also a route to reducing energy bills. The Government also needs to spell out what financial help will be put in place for those who need it most.

‘As the Government decides on financial help for customers with the cost of their energy bills, they must also come forward with a replacement for the Green Homes Grant. Action is needed to improve insulation and energy efficiency in our homes and to step up the pace in delivering low carbon heating systems, at a lower cost to households than today.

‘Ministers can’t simply leave this to the market – Government should tackle the cost of heating our homes in the round and bring forward joined-up policies that address these issues together.’

Responding to the committee’s report, a Government spokesperson said: ‘Our landmark Heat and Buildings Strategy provides a clear and comprehensive plan for cutting emissions from the UK’s homes, with plans to incentivise people to install low-carbon heating systems in a simple, fair and cheap way, including £5,000 grants for heat pumps.

‘With industry we are aiming for big cost reductions of between a quarter and a half by 2025 as the heat pump market expands and technology develops. In total, we’re investing £6.6bn this parliament to decarbonise our buildings, saving people money on their bills and slashing pollution in the process.’

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