Ed Miliband: Labour would scrap Tories’ 2035 gas boiler ban

Image: Labour Party

Miliband told The Telegraph that he did not want the general public to view a Labour Government as one which would “force” homes to “rip out” their gas boilers.

He said: “We haven’t stuck with the Government’s 2035 target when you can’t replace your gas boiler. I know that we’ve got to show that heat pumps are affordable and are going to work for people.”

The 2035 ban was floated under Boris Johnson. This pledge has been maintained under Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – although the incumbent has rolled back several other key home heating sustainability commitments, arguing that his intention was to avoid burdening families with extra costs. He has also delayed measures designed to force home heating manufacturers to produce more heat pumps.

Amid this political instability, the ban has not yet been enshrined in law. Labour would not need to scrap any existing policies to deliver Miliband’s pledge.

Miliband’s comments have raised eyebrows among the UK’s green economy for fears that removing the 2035 target could undermine the low-carbon heat transition. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) last summer warned that policymakers need to stop “avoiding big, impactful decisions and actions” to decarbonise heat. It concluded that 77% of the emissions reductions needed in heat in the Sixth Carbon Budget are not yet backed with credible policy support.

Miliband did emphasise that Labour would still be seeking to drive a surge in heat pump installations, with a need to roll these electric technologies out rapidly as further evidence is sought on the practicalities of hydrogen heating in the UK.

He praised the current Government for implementing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Backed with a £1.9bn funding pot, the scheme gives households a grant of up to £7,500 for replacing their oil or gas heating systems with heat pumps.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cover the full costs of heat pumps – typically £10,000 to £12,000 – for low-income homes. But Miliband said that offering more grant funding would be challenging and costly to the taxpayer.

To that end, Labour would seek to maintain grant funding levels and compound this with other interventions to support a more rapid national heat pump rollout.

The Party would look to expand the scope of the grant funding, so more homes are eligible. It is also in favour of supporting the green mortgage market to scale. Such mortgages offer more favourable rates for installing energy efficiency measures and/or heat pumps.

Labour would additionally investigate changes to stamp duty and/or council tax to reward homeowners for cutting their heating emissions.

This would form part of plans to double Government spending on building energy efficiency and onsite green technologies for buildings, from the £6.6bn allocated by the Conservatives over the past Parliament.

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Comments (1)

  1. Mike Mann says:

    This is common sense and avoids penalising the less well off.
    However, it also needs to be supplemented with a clear policy that says what standards homes/buildings need to meet for 2050 and beyond, how much energy and what type they can use, and issue a raft of exemplars on how to do it for each archetype/age of property. Only when you know the destination can you plan the journey and then funders can also develop business plans with a greater degree of confidence. It does need to be legislated though. Business cannot plan medium to long term on simple government policy.

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