Boris Johnson’s ministers are preparing to release an ambitious plan to cut UK carbon emissions by eliminating gas heating in homes. The government’s political headache is that this strategy could hit voters with skyrocketing bills, and the announcement will now be seen as a high-risk move at a time when millions of consumers are already facing higher electricity bills.
While the government will provide some grants to help move towards greener homes, the cost of reducing carbon emissions will largely be borne by private consumers and businesses.
The deferred heating and construction strategy is expected to be released over the next two or three weeks, ahead of the COP26 climate change summit that Johnson is hosting in Glasgow in late October.
Plan as informed New statesmanis not yet finalized, and more painful elements of the package may still be excluded during discussions between ministers. When it comes down to it, the strategy will be part of the government’s broader agenda to reach the goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.
According to the plans considered by the ministers:
- New rules will be put forward requiring homeowners to isolate their properties to higher standards, the proposal is likely to be politically sensitive by imposing higher costs on consumers without much government assistance.
- The sale of new gas boilers will also be discontinued, with a ban on the connection of new houses to the main gas, potentially from 2025. The ban on the installation of new gas boilers in all homes will come into force. since 2035. The exact timeline may not be included in the final strategy document, although these objectives are being discussed.
- The new tax could be applied to gas as it is included in the new UK carbon trading scheme. The plan is designed to make gas more expensive, and according to some estimates, the collection could bring the Treasury £ 3 billion. The proposal could be postponed if it is deemed too politically toxic.
- According to the plan, green charges on electricity bills could be eliminated to lower the cost of electric heating.
- Homeowners will be encouraged to replace gas boilers with heat pumps through government subsidies to reduce replacement costs, which can typically run as high as £ 10,000.
- The grants will be £ 5,000 for an air source heat pump and £ 6,000 for a ground source heat pump. This will likely be designated as a boiler modernization scheme and will take effect in 2022.
- Incentives will be offered to encourage the construction of heating networks, sometimes called district heating, in which heat is pumped from a central source through insulated pipes to a number of buildings in the area.
Johnson is shackled by politics, sandwiched between his green commitments and the prospect of telling the public that they will have to pay for it. At the end of this month, he is hosting the COP26 Climate Summit, an event he wants to use to showcase the UK’s post-Brexit impact on the global stage and take decisive action to protect the environment.
He is trying to convince other countries to embrace ambitious carbon reduction targets and will be forced to prove he has a detailed plan to turn Britain into a clean, zero-carbon economy by 2050. The heating and building strategy is a vital part of this plan. – Heating and electricity in buildings accounts for 40% of total energy consumption in the UK.
However, at the same time, UK consumers and businesses are facing an energy cost crisis. Wholesale gas prices this week were 10 times higher than a year ago, and officials warned that average electricity bills could surpass £ 2,000 if prices continue to rise. News that ministers are opting for a policy of further gas price increases is unlikely to be welcomed by the public in the short term.
This is why some in government expect the final strategy to be less harsh on consumers when it is eventually released. The goal will be to portray the reforms as making electricity cheaper while gas prices rise.
The government has calculated that households pay an average of £ 159 in environmental surcharges on their electricity bills. These fees are then channeled to support renewable energy development as well as schemes to help poorer households lower their bills.
Officials argue that electricity generation is now greener than ever but subject to higher taxes, while gas pollutes much more but is taxed much less. In Whitehall, this is described as a “price distortion” that ministers intend to eliminate in their plans. Changes in fees are unlikely to be made over the years.