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Opinion: Getting to Net Zero

The net-zero race is on – and in 2019, the UK Government committed to a target of getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the global stage. 

Conservative MP, Chris Skidmore recently issued a report announcing that the UK is falling behind in its targets and a new approach is urgently needed to turn the situation around. We asked Product Director of Hometree Group, Dr Nicola Battey for her take on the current situation in response to some of the new actions Chris has proposed. Here’s what she had to say:

Phase out gas boilers by 2033

Creating legislation to phase out gas boilers earlier than planned (by 2033 instead of 2035) is certainly a positive step in the right direction but it’s essential to provide more training for installers in renewables – and at scale – in order to succeed. Training for installers on green energy solutions also creates more job opportunities – something that’s highly valuable in the current economic climate. Continued financial support, such as the extension of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme beyond 2025, is also critical in turning this goal into a reality.

Scrap UK planning rules for solar panels

Removing barriers to implementing new renewable energy is vital in helping us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This also helps homeowners become more energy independent within their homes. However, when it comes to carbon emissions, in my opinion low-carbon heat is where we can have the biggest, most immediate impact on our CO2 emissions. Given that 17% of the UK’s carbon emissions relate to domestic heat, this is where the biggest gains could be made. 

Increase solar and onshore wind generation – and increase solar generation fivefold by 2035

Investment in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, not only has an environmental benefit but there’s also an economic upshoot. According to the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology, investing in renewable energy can generate a further 70,000 jobs – plus, much-needed economic growth opportunities outside of urban areas. However, given the time to deploy the infrastructure, decisions need to be made quickly in order to be effective and create impact. Setting up a task-force alone in 2023 is unlikely to result in the change we need to create.

What else?

What’s missing for me from the proposal is any specific recommendations to reducing energy demands in the home. In particular, demand for heat. The review highlights that emissions from heating have not changed significantly since 2015. The direct emissions of our homes have not been addressed thus far and sadly, a public awareness campaign was cancelled in the autumn.

People are increasingly struggling to maintain comfort in their homes at a cost they can afford. Without helping people reduce their energy demand, we will see impacts not only on household bills but the environment, too. We all need to get on the journey to net-zero if we are to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. It’s time to get started. 

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