Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called for new measures to bring home heating in line with Scotland’s ambitious emission reduction targets, as part of the New Hope for the Climate Emergency series.
It comes as new strategies are put forward by the UK and Scottish Governments, and the scale of the challenge to decarbonise home heating becomes clear.
Scotland has around 2.5 million homes, the majority of which will still be in use by the time Scotland reaches its date for net zero. At the moment, heat accounts for a fifth of emissions.
Alex Cole-Hamilton has now called for the Scottish Government to go further, and introduce:
- A new, immediate presumption that new builds should install zero or low carbon heating systems, and a commitment to making all properties net zero ready by the end of this parliament;
- A new target date for poor energy efficiency to be ended as a driver for fuel poverty, with insulation designated as a national strategic priority and funding commitments to accompany the upcoming Fuel Poverty Strategy;
- A shift to an upfront voucher scheme for homeowners who want to install energy efficient and low emission heating systems, as opposed to the current schemes for cashback systems or loans.
- A more ambitious target date for the end of gas boiler replacements, bringing this forward so that they are phased out by the end of this parliament (2026).
Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:
“How and when we decarbonise our buildings will either make or break our climate emergency commitments. And as it stands, both of Scotland’s governments are failing. We’re lagging way behind our European neighbours.
“Gas boilers will be keeping the majority of us warm this winter, and there’s no disputing the fact that that needs to change. But the Scottish Government have failed to provide good answers for people who ask about the alternatives. Costs and bureaucracy create barriers that need to be torn down.
“Every new build installed without low emission technology is a problem that needs to be fixed within the next ten years. The SNP/Green government don’t plan to call a halt for years, but we shouldn’t be adding to the problem.
“The government declared energy efficiency a national priority more than five years ago, but we’re no closer to dealing with our leaky buildings. The Fuel Poverty Bill passed years ago, but we still don’t have the strategy that was supposed to follow. A quarter of Scottish households face fuel poverty.
“We need to up the ante on insulation to help those facing fuel poverty now, with funding increased until poor energy efficiency is no longer a driver. That helps bills, helps reduce emissions and makes homes net zero ready, because technologies like heat pumps need a good level of insulation to work.
“The climate crisis and the fuel crisis are a reality now. We can’t wait years for radical action.”