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Scotland to introduce stricter low carbon heat targets

Devolved authority outlines raft of commitments to push forward with renewable or low carbon heat including their mandatory inclusion in new build homes by 2024

The Scottish Government will introduce regulations that will require all new homes in the country by 2024 to have either “renewable or low carbon heating”.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously stated that the UK will be outlawing fossil fuel heating in new build homes by 2025.

However, Scotland’s own devolved government is now seeking to push lower carbon heat solutions as a mandatory requirement for new homes a year earlier. The pledge will be supported by £30m of investment in renewable heat projects. Scotland is also reviewing energy standards that are currently enshrined in the country’s building regulations with the aim of improving efficiency in its buildings.

A further commitment has also been set out by the Scottish Government to phase in requirements for non-domestic buildings that require consent to be built to adopt renewable of low carbon heat from 2024.

Paul Wheelhouse, energy minister with the devolved authority, said that the proposals would build on the Scottish Government’s intentions of realising ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2045. This target is intended to be realised five years ahead of the UK government’s legal commitment to fully eliminate or offset carbon emissions.

Mr Wheelhouse said that the heating plans would be part of efforts to try and curb 75 per cent of Scotland’s carbon emissions – based on 1990 levels - by 2030.

He added, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the pace of decarbonising Scotland’s domestic and non-domestic buildings has to increase significantly to achieve those aims, and emissions from our buildings will have to fall close to zero.”

CCC view on Scottish ambitions

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which provides independent advice and scrutiny of UK environmental policy, said late last year that Scotland needed a drastic new approach to realise its decarbonisation aims.

CCC chair Lord Deben said at the time that that Scotland’s commitments to try and become a net zero economy in 25 years, with the majority of its emissions being made by 2030, was hugely challenging and would require significant new policies.

Lord Deben added, “The spotlight is now on Scotland’s plan to deliver meaningful reductions across all sectors of the economy, including from buildings, road transport, agriculture and land use. Their contribution to reducing emissions is vital to Scotland’s success.”

“Scotland has outperformed the rest of the UK in cleaning up its economy, resting on the rapid closure of coal. As this chapter closes, the Scottish story must change. But so far, we haven’t seen the same progress in other sectors. With the right policies and the committed support of Westminster, Scotland can lead the way in ending the UK’s contribution to global warming for good.”

The CCC has called for Scotland’s next climate change plan to have more comprehensive details concerning policies and other governance changes required to shift to a fully net-zero society. The watchdog said this strategy must then be enacted at all levels of the government.

Any hope of meeting Scotland’s net-zero ambition was an interconnected challenge with the UK’s government commitments, the CCC added. Authorities in Westminster were therefore urged to better match and support Scotland’s ambitions, particularly in the case where legislative powers remained reserved. This would relate to policy concerning carbon capture and storage, electricity generation and the future of the gas grid.

The CCC stated, “Both governments must work more closely to make the best use of devolved and reserved policy levers in key areas where responsibilities are split, including the future of heating, electric vehicles and low-carbon infrastructure.”

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