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by Ross Armstrong, Warmworks
11 April 2024
Associate Feature: Accelerating a Just Transition to Net Zero

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Associate Feature: Accelerating a Just Transition to Net Zero

The Scottish Government has recently completed two very important consultation exercises – one for a Heat in Buildings Bill, and the second for a Social Housing Net Zero Standard. What both consultations have in common is that they will define how we heat our homes in the years to come as we move closer to the target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045. 

Warmworks has given our view on these consultations, but the most important point for us is that it’s crucial that the transition to net zero is just and equitable, making sure everyone is supported to make the change together.  

One of the proposals outlined in the Heat in Buildings Bill consultation is to ban polluting heating systems in all homes from 2045. While we recognise that targets are needed to drive action, Warmworks believes that we will only be successful if we act now by providing the right incentives for people to take action and the necessary market signals to drive forward the innovation and investment that is required now to help people make the transition to clean heating solutions. 

Indeed, people are already transitioning to clean heating systems under the government-funded schemes that we deliver, such as the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty scheme, Warmer Homes Scotland. In the last year of the scheme alone, we have installed approximately 750 clean heating systems in homes across Scotland. We need to build on this momentum now, galvanising the wider public to follow the Government’s lead in making the transition sooner rather than later. 

Of course, there is the matter of financing to consider, which will be a fundamental component of the success of the transition to net zero. As technology develops over time, prices will reduce. However, in the interim, financial incentives and support should be offered to help those who want to move faster to do so, including continued support to help those living in fuel poverty to make the transition. 

In taking the above into account, it is also imperative that we make sure that greater parity is achieved between gas and electricity prices. This is needed so that we do not push people into fuel poverty by transitioning them to electrified forms of heating that are better for the environment, but which end up being more costly to run than their existing heating system. Furthermore, grid capacity needs to be bolstered so that delays in making the transition are limited and vulnerable people aren’t prevented from making the change simply because they cannot wait in cold homes for the necessary upgrade works to take place.  

It is encouraging that the approach set out in the Scottish Government’s Social Housing Net Zero Standard consultation aligns for the most part with the Heat in Buildings Bill consultation, as this will be a key step in making sure no one group is left behind in the transition to net zero. However, this also means that Warmworks’ key points outlined above also apply. 

There is no doubt that the way we heat our homes needs to change if we are to realise our net zero goals. The transition is not linear, and it will have its challenges, but with challenge comes opportunity and the cost of doing nothing, or going slower than we should, is greater. We must work together to find solutions, provide additional support where it is needed, and incentivise our supply chain to step up and meet the challenges head on; we cannot afford to do anything less. 

This article is sponsored by Warmworks

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