In the UK, heating accounts for over one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, which also makes heating the largest single source of the country’s carbon emissions. Experts and academics warn that the UK’s decarbonisation targets might not be met if no steps are taken to improve the heating supply and ban new gas boilers.
A newly formed Heat Commission – organised by the University of Birmingham and CBI – is calling on the UK government to create a National Delivery Body (or ‘NDB’) to establish a heat decarbonisation strategy.
The commission suggested that the NDB be modeled after the setup for the 2012 Olympics, and that it’s focus will be decarbonising the heating sector and improving energy efficiency.
Heating accounts for 40% of energy consumption in the UK, and often makes use of natural gas.
The group believes that the development and implementation of that decarbonisation strategy should involve businesses, regulators, the government and local communities in shaping delivery mechanisms and policies. It would ensure that the heat sector is on track to meet the nation’s ‘net-zero carbon’ targets by 2050.
This intervention by the new commission also unveiled £350 Million of investments that will help slash emissions in the construction, heavy industry, and transport industries. The commission also suggested that conventional gas boilers should be banned from 2025.
The report proposed that an impartial and independent temporary body be set up to create the overarching NDB, which will later be implemented by local authorities. It will help synergise local energy plans with the overall national agenda.
The University of Birmingham, along with Energy Research Accelerator and Energy Systems Catapult, proposed the establishment of a National Centre for the Decarbonisation of Heat, which will be based in the West Midlands. It would bolster the level of skills, manufacturing, and deployment required to meet goals.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, University of Birmingham Chancellor, Heat Commission Chair and the CBI President, stated that the net-zero targets in the UK would likely not be met if the heating sector fails to be decarbonised. He added that the commission’s suggestions would help create a roadmap to accelerate the progress of the nation’s decarbonisation efforts.
University of Birmingham professor Martin Freer said that decarbonising heat is one of the most challenging aspects of the UK’s net-zero goals. It will require more than 20 million households to opt for other methods of heat generation, along with adopting more energy-efficient measures.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK has made huge leaps towards meeting its targets since last year, and that it’s crucial to maintain that progress to ensure a green and sustainable recovery.
With the country currently also taking a massive hit from the pandemic, pushing for more decarbonisation schemes will cement the UK’s place as a leader in tackling climate change.
Five lending companies – headed up by Handelsbanken and Barclays – have formed a group that plans to provide financial support for businesses working to usher in a carbon-neutral economy for Britain.
The ‘Bankers for NetZero’ initiative has been joined by Triodos, digital lender Tide, and Ecology Building Society to find ways to reduce risks for businesses that wish to implement more sustainable practices.
High-Level Climate Action expert for COP26, Nigel Topping, opined that while banks have been late to join in with the nation’s climate action, this newly developed initiative is a welcome move by the banking sector.
On 16 July, the group convened in an inaugural meeting via a webinar, where they discussed the types of support banks could deliver, as well as how existing infrastructures could be retrofitted to reduce carbon emissions.
Insurer Legal & General – a leading real estate investor – called on the government to pass legislation that promotes transparency regarding the energy consumption of commercial buildings, and help them switch to renewables.
The ‘Bankers for NetZero’ initiative hopes to publish a white paper within the year, which will report on what needs to be done to accelerate the transition towards a fully decarbonised economy.
This initiative is made in partnership with Volans – which is an advisory and research firm – strategy consultancy Re:Pattern, and the All Party Parliament Group on Fair Business Banking.