The sale of gas-only boilers in the UK could be banned by 2026, with all new systems to run on hydrogen instead as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushes ahead with his radical Net Zero climate change agenda.
The Government is consulting on plans to make sure new boilers run on hydrogen, which does not produce carbon dioxide when burned and which ministers hope will supply a third of UK energy by 2050.
Tests are ongoing to determine if hydrogen can be used safely and effectively to replace natural gas, which supplies about 74pc of the energy for heating and hot water in UK buildings and homes.
A ban on sales of new natural gas-only boilers would add to plans to stop the boilers from being installed in new-build homes by 2025. Around 1.5 million boilers are replaced in the UK each year.
However, hydrogen-ready boilers are expensive and are not yet commercially available and work still needs to be done to set standards.
The proposals are likely to be criticised by Tory MPs who fear that poorer families will bear the brunt of the Prime Minister’s green agenda, which also includes a ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars.
Mr Johnson, whose wife Carrie is an environmentalist, said a doomsday UN report highlighting the scale of global climate change was a ‘wake-up call’ for the world and demanded an end to the use of coal for power.
Boris Johnson‘s green and anti-obesity projects could end up costing Britain’s households more than £28,000 each over the coming decade if they are fully implemented, it emerged today.
The Prime Minister is considering a range of eco-friendly policies during his tenure such as a ban on new fossil-fuelled cars including hybrids by 2033.
In a new strategy unveiled on Tuesday, officials said: ‘We aim to consult later this year on the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) by 2026.’
The Prime Minister appears to be pushing on with his Net Zero ambitions ahead of the much-anticipated COP26 summit in Glasgow this autumn, where world leaders will gather to discuss climate action.
But the pledge has caused fury in Tory circles, with MPs warning that the additional costs will hit lower earners in the Conservative-voting Red Wall.
The project has also reportedly led to clashes between the Prime Minister and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is desperately trying to repair the damage to the public finances inflicted during the Covid pandemic.
Kent MP Craig Mackinlay has launched a group to to push back at plans he argues could be could ‘completely kill us off politically’.
He and others argue they will hit poorer voters in former ‘Red Wall’ areas who moved away from Labour under the troubled leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and voted Conservative for the first time in 2019.
Amid Tory criticism, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that ministers ‘want to try and help people make that transition’ when asked about the expense to consumers of scrapping gas boilers.
Mr Sunak was reportedly leading push-back against Net Zero, fearing it will spark a cost-of-living crisis with energy bills already on the rise and inflation spiking as Covid restrictions ease after 18 months.
A Treasury review into the costs of meeting the Net Zero 2050 goal has already been delayed twice from its original spring publication date.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the delay is due to fears that analysis shows working class families bearing the heaviest share of the burden. But a source told the Times that No10 and No11 were both on the same page when it comes to climate change.
The UN’s climate report, which has sparked much of the new climate change tackling schemes, focuses on the physical science of climate change, forms the first part of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, and is even clearer on the impact humans are having on the planet than the last such analysis in 2013.
It draws on more than 14,000 scientific papers to reach its conclusions and has found it is ‘unequivocal’ that human activity is warming the world.
Rapid and widespread changes to the land, atmosphere and oceans have occurred – from temperature increases to sea level rises – that are unprecedented for many centuries or even many thousands of years.
The report makes clear that human-caused climate change, which has pushed up global temperatures by 1.1C, is driving weather and climate extremes in every region across the world.
There are already more frequent and intense heatwaves and heavy rainstorms in many places, including northern Europe, as well as droughts and cyclones.
Humans are also very likely the main driver in the global retreat of glaciers, declines in Arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.
Sea level rises are speeding up, with the oceans rising by 3.7mm (0.15 inches) a year in recent years, and are set to continue to rise this century whether emissions remain high or fall dramatically.
Changes to oceans, sea levels and melting permafrost and glaciers are irreversible for decades, centuries or even millennia as a result of past and future warming.
And cities are at particular risk as the climate warms, experiencing hotter temperatures in heatwaves and flash flooding from heavy rain.
The study also warns that unlikely events such ice sheet collapses, abrupt changes to ocean circulation – which drives weather patterns – and much higher warming cannot be ruled out.
But the report, which assesses the potential impact of a range of five future scenarios from very low emissions to very high pollution, highlights the impacts of the choices the world makes now.
Temperature rises have a good chance of remaining below 1.5C in the long term if carbon emissions are cut to net zero by 2050, followed by efforts to take more carbon dioxide out of the air than is put into the atmosphere, along with deep cuts to other greenhouse gases.
Cutting methane – produced by oil and gas drilling and agriculture, particularly livestock farming – could help curb rising temperatures, as well as improving air quality, the report said.
But scientists who worked on the report said current pledges of action on emissions put the world on a pathway that could lead to 2.7C of warming by the late 21st century – or higher if the pledges were not delivered on.
Sea levels would rise by around 28-55cm (11-22 inches) by 2100 in a very low emissions scenario, but by significantly more if emissions stayed high.
Every additional 0.5C temperature rise leads to clear increases in the intensity of heatwaves, rainstorms and flooding, and droughts in some regions.