I’m writing this just as Rishi Sunak has confirmed he is delaying the ban on the installation of fossil fuel boilers and the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035.
In his speech, the PM said:
“I am confident we can adopt a more pragmatic and realistic approach to net zero which eases the burden on British people.”
He said the UK remains committed to net zero by 2050, and said that the move meant that people have more time to make the switch to heat pumps and electric vehicles.
The PM also shared a tweet on the subject, with a rather odd promise we won’t all have seven bins for our recycling.
We will never impose unnecessary and heavy-handed measures on you, the British people.
We will still meet our international commitments and hit Net Zero by 2050. pic.twitter.com/XjXQzGVaCN
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 20, 2023
The response has been mixed, ranging from disappointed resignation to a commitment to continue decarbonising our built environment while tackling issues such as fuel poverty and air quality.
Writing on LinkedIn, Lucy Breeze, Sustainability Manager at Golding Homes, said: “My immediate shock, anger and sadness has quickly given way to silent determination. We know what we need to do to tackle climate change. We know what we need to do to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from high energy costs and to share the benefits of a low carbon future. We don’t need to be distracted by science-less politics. Stay strong, my fellow sustainability professionals – we can do this!”
Speaking before the news was confirmed, Simon McWhirter, Deputy CE of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) said: “This will be a real blow to the green business, investment and quality jobs that must be at the heart of our country’s future as we rebuild. We know from other technologies that if government sets a target, industry will skill up and scale up, confident there is a market. And as we’ve said before, rolling back plans to improve the energy efficiency of rented homes is also environmentally reckless and economically damaging. The last time the government went down the path of slashing green measures it added billions to people’s energy bills.”
There was some good heat pump news within the announcement, in that the funding homeowners can access from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is rising from £5k to £7.5k. That may well have an impact on consumer demand, but with new boilers still being available, how much of an impact remains to be seen.