Brr... it’s cold in here, there must be 90,000 heat pumps in the next three years

·2-min read
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

Britain has long been a world-leader in setting climate targets. The 2008 Climate Change Act included the first global legally binding mitigation target set by any country, committing the UK to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, compared with 1990 levels.

In 2019, the UK broke new ground, setting a net-zero target by 2050. Yet targets alone are the easy bit. The day before your diet begins is full of culinary delights. The hard part is developing credible policies to get there.

In June, Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said that while the targets were remarkable, “the policy is just not there.” And he was right.

Yet fast forward to today and the publication of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, and, to invert the oft-quoted line from Nora Gaitskell, wife of Hugh, all the right people are cheering.

The Strategy — all 368 pages of it — sets the clear direction of travel so critical for leveraging public and private investment in clean technologies. It includes:

  • Support for new nuclear

  • Carbon, capture and storage

  • A zero-emission mandate for automakers and alongside £620 million for zero-emission vehicle grants and EV infrastructure

  • A 2035 power sector decarbonisation target

  • A requirement for big businesses to publish net-zero plans

  • Plans to deliver at least £1.5 billion of funding to support net-zero innovation projects

I feel far more optimistic than I did this morning, with the disappointing ambition on heat pumps. 90,000 over three years sounds good, until you remember there are roughly 29 million homes in the UK and 86 per cent of them are heated by a gas boiler.

By the way, key questions on heat pumps, including the £5,000 grant, are answered here.

There does of course remain a cloud regarding the continued extraction of fossil fuels, with the Government yet to rule out either a new coal mine in Cumbria or further drilling in the North Sea.

But I take heart from Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, who today tweeted: “We didn’t have a plan before, now we do.”

In the comment pages, Anne McElvoy worries the Cop26 summit runs the risk of becoming an eco-Hamlet with very few visiting princes, while following the appalling killing of Sir David Amess, Emma Loffhagen wonders whether this will be a watershed moment for social media hate?

And finally, Dogpound gym — Hollywood’s hardest workout — has landed in London. Are you tough enough?

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