Thank you for contacting me about the Prime Minister’s recent speech in which he announced a change of approach to the UK’s climate policy to reach net zero, including measures affecting electric vehicles and boilers.
I am committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and I know the Prime Minister is too. I have been campaigning behind the scenes, as a ‘green Tory’, who cares about the environment and the need to mitigate the factors of climate change, to ensure that policies take people with us and do not overburden local residents. This is why I have focused for the last 4 years in restoring nature. Nature-based solutions are key and sustainable solutions in mitigating climate change and once properly regulated, can be funded largely via the private sector because no government can afford to do this. I understand from the Prime Minister that green environmental initiatives will be announced in the coming weeks. Combating climate change not only requires a reduction in emissions (which this country has led on reducing faster than any other major economy, resulting in the UK’s share of global emissions now less than 1%), it requires us to capture and store carbon – which nature, if we unleash her power, does best.
I am acutely aware that there are people in Hastings and Rye who do not have limitless finances. This has been compounded by the Cost-of-Living-Crisis, where the Government has stepped in to support people with their energy bills. The UK is a world leader in cutting emissions, surpassing the targets most countries have set for 2030 including Australia, Canada, Japan and the US. As we continue to cut emissions and reach our 2050 targets, we also need to make sure that we do not lose the consent of the British people facing higher living costs.
In 2017, the Government announced the ban of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040; former Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought this forward to 2030. The ban will now begin in 2035. This will give consumers, industry and the Government time to prepare, especially in creating the infrastructure, including increasing the National Grid capacity, that is needed to support electric vehicles.
In regards to boilers, I feel it is important to listen to people who say that they cannot afford to transition to a new green boiler, especially because of the huge increase in gas prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Rather than 100% of boilers being phased out by 2035, he is setting the phase-out target at 80%. The 2026 ban on off-grid oil boilers (which affects a significant number of Hastings and Rye residents) is also delayed to 2035, giving more time for people to transition to heat pumps – when they would be replacing their boiler. That is why the Government is providing funding through the ‘Help to Heat’ schemes, including the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which now provides £7,500 grants for an air-source heat pump, in addition to the 0 per cent rate of VAT on this technology. The Government aims to make heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as a gas boiler by 2030 at the latest. The Government will do this by growing the heat pump market and expanding UK manufacturing with the aim of reducing costs by at least 25-50 per cent by 2025.
The Government is committed to reaching net-zero by 2050 and recognises the importance of decarbonising domestic heat. Nearly half of the fossil fuel gas consumed in the UK goes on heating, and furthermore, heat in buildings account for around 23 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. To reach net zero heating needs to be decarbonised, yet be done in a pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic way.
Sally-Ann Hart MP.