UK households could soon see a total phase-out of fossil-fuelled boilers by 2035.
That’s the headline recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which has published its latest progress report on efforts to cut emissions as we strive for net zero.
From 2025, all new build homes will need to be built with low-carbon heating.
The UK’s 29 million existing homes and all commercial and public buildings, will need to switch away from fossil-fuelled boilers towards low-carbon heating sources.
It suggests phasing out the installation of all new gas boilers by 2035 at the latest and making homes climate-resilient.
With housing being one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the committee says the government needs to begin the shift immediately to low-carbon heating systems to protect against overheating.
But it is not only low carbon heating, which must dominate new heating installations by early 2030s, the committee also says the government needs to concentrate on several other issues. These include low-carbon retrofits, energy networks, green infrastructure, circular economy and tree planting.
The advisors say new hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure could provide a quick route to establishing new low-carbon industries.
It recommends large-scale hydrogen trials should begin in the early 2020s and a funding mechanism is needed for the operational costs of early deployment of industrial electrification and hydrogen use as well as CCS.
EVs and transport
The CCC also suggests it is a good time to raise fuel duty. It says introducing carbon pricing can both drive low-carbon behaviour and raise about £15 billion, which could be then dedicated to green measures, such as incentives for motorists to switch to electric vehicles (EVs).
A complete switch to EVs and a full phase-out of petrol and diesel cars could be managed by 2032, according to the report, with fast-tracked EV charging points playing a significant role in this change.
Dedicated safe spaces for walking and cycling and support for shared bikes and e-scooters, can help the nation get back to work in a more sustainable way.
The committee suggests the roll-out of ‘green passports’ for buildings can begin immediately. The passports would signify the property, had been constructed to the highest standards of energy efficiency. The committee claims this could lead to a jobs boom with new opportunities to re-skill the population.
Waste and environment
On waste, the committee adds: “within the next five years ‘we can not only increase recycling rates rapidly but stop sending biodegradable waste to landfill”.
The report suggests meeting the UK’s net zero target will also require making ‘substantial’ changes in the use of land, which could bring benefits for the air quality, climate and flood prevention – incentive schemes such as auctioned contracts could drive afforestation.
Time to act is now
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The UK is facing its biggest economic shock for a generation. Meanwhile, the global crisis of climate change is accelerating. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address these urgent challenges together.
“The steps that the UK takes to rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic can accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon economy and improve our climate resilience. Choices that lock-in emissions or climate risks are unacceptable.”
Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, commented: “Covid-19 has shown planning for systemic risks is unavoidable. We have warned repeatedly that the UK is poorly prepared for the very serious impacts of climate change, including flooding, overheating and water shortages.
“Now is the moment to get our house in order, coordinate national planning, and prepare for the inevitable changes ahead.”