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Government Targets 78% Cut in Emissions by 2035

21st Apr 2021

Adam Cherry
By: Adam Cherry
Updated: 6th April 2022

The UK government is accelerating its pursuit of net-zero by committing to a 78% cut in carbon emissions by 2035.

The new target, which is based on 1990 levels, will be enshrined into law in June 2021 and follows a recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

This news is set to have big implications for home heating which accounts for around 15% of all UK carbon emissions. To come close to achieving carbon reduction targets, low-carbon heating systems, such as hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, will need increased investment.

Commenting on the news, Business & Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: "The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change and today's announcement means our low carbon future is now in sight. The targets we've set ourselves in the sixth Carbon Budget will see us go further and faster than any other major economy to achieve a completely carbon neutral future.

"This latest target shows the world that the UK is serious about protecting the health of our planet, while also seizing the new economic opportunities it will bring and capitalising on green technologies - yet another step as we build back greener from the pandemic and we lead the world towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for this generation and those to come."

Could this be the end for the boiler?

The boiler is a tried and trusted heating system. However, there's no hiding the fact that we can't go on burning gas and oil to heat our homes forever.

Heat pumps, which capture heat from either the air or ground, are one low-carbon alternative. Electricity is all a heat pump needs to heat a home and they release no carbon whatsoever.

The only problem with heat pumps is that they can be challenging to install and they're not suitable for all homes.

Plus, homeowners and heating engineers alike will no doubt be sceptical around any future initiatives aimed at increasing the uptake of low-carbon heating systems after the failure of the Green Homes Grant.

So, rather than facing the impractical and expensive task of replacing the millions of boilers across the country, the answer could be to replace the fuel. And that's where hydrogen comes in.

Around 85% of all UK homes rely on a gas boiler for their heating and hot water – a fuel which emits carbon into the atmosphere when burned. Hydrogen is being lined up as a potential alternative because it only produces heat, water and vapour when burned.

Current modern condensing gas boilers would be able to run on a hydrogen blend (a mix of natural gas and hydrogen) but if the gas network was to completely switch to hydrogen then hydrogen-ready boilers would be needed. These are already being developed by leading manufacturers, including Worcester Bosch and Baxi, alongside calls for all boilers to be hydrogen-ready from 2025.

To achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 78%, a clear direction for the future of home heating must be found. As chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, said: “The implication of this path is clear: the utmost focus is required from government over the next 10 years.

“If policy is not scaled up across every sector, if business is not encouraged to invest, if the people of the UK are not engaged in this challenge – the UK will not deliver net zero by 2050. The 2020s must be the decisive decade of progress and action.”

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Adam Cherry

About the author

Adam Cherry

Adam is our resident home heating expert. His experience and advice has helped millions of customers improve the efficiency of their homes and save money.

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