EU are trying to ‘capture Northern Ireland’ says Ben Habib
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Fossil fuel boilers are undermining the European Union’s plans for a climate-neutral Europe. Governments are considering a gradual phase-out of gas boilers, as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 60 percent before 2030. However, time is running out and more than 75 percent of the energy produced for domestic heating in Europe is still coming from fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal).
This is despite the market being ready and the industry calling to switch from gas boilers to clean technologies.
Moreover, the latest analysis by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), on behalf of Coolproducts campaign, shows only seven countries (Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands) have cut off public funding to gas, coal and oil heating.
Findings also reveal that 16 EU governments still incentivise the purchase and/or installation of new gas boilers through various tax reductions, loans and grants, which range between €200 (£170.22) and €2,500 (£2,127) – and are supposedly aimed at greening our homes.
Nine are still promoting oil heating and there are still two of them where coal heating can still be subsidised.
In a report titled ‘Taxpayer’s money keeps flowing into dirty heating’, journalist Antonio Vela wrote: “A month ago, the International Energy Agency endorsed one of the main claims of Coolproducts: we will not reach climate neutrality by 2050 if we do not ban fossil fuel boilers by 2025.
“The European Parliament just voted to push EU member states to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
“A recent report of ECOS for the coolproducts campaign showed fossil heating technologies face bans only in a few member states and concludes that this process can only gain momentum if the European institutions speed up the decarbonisation process.
“Even major EU energy groups recently called on the European Union to favour decarbonisation through electrification of heating over fossil fuel solutions, arguing that heat pumps can be deployed on a large scale in Europe without jeopardising electric grid stability, a false argument that the gas lobby has been spreading.”
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Mr Vela, writing for the EEB website, insisted that despite these winds of change over the sector, EU governments are not doing their part in the decarbonisation of heating.
He concluded: “The slow uptake of clean heating at national level, namely the huge amounts of fossil fuel subsidies reducing the cost of gas heating, and the slow insulation rates in some countries are hindering the huge potential of renewables.”
According to the CEOs of major energy groups, including Spain’s Iberdrola, Italy’s Enel and France’s EDF, electric heat pumps can be deployed on a large scale in Europe without jeopardising grid stability.
The industry coalition wrote in a letter sent to the European Commission earlier this month that the electrification of heating “is a reliable solution towards a zero emission Europe”.
Switching fossil fuel boilers to electric heat pumps will reduce final energy consumption in buildings by more than 66 percent, and reduce heating-related CO2 emissions by at least 60 percent, potentially bringing them close to zero, the coalition said.
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Importantly, the rollout of electric heat pumps in Europe “will not jeopardise the security of supply of electricity, not now and not in the future”.
The statement added: “The lights will stay on with 50 million heat pumps.
“We thus encourage the European Commission and the Member States to further promote the efficient electrification of heating as part of the energy transition.”
The letter was signed by the CEOs of 13 energy groups or trade associations, including: Jean-Bernard Levy (EDF), Miguel Stilwell (EDP Group), Francesco Starace (Enel), Stefan Håkansson (E.ON SE), Ignacio Galán (Iberdrola), Christian Rynning-Tønnesen (Statkraft), and Martin Forsén (European Heat Pump Association).
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