LONDON — Grants of £5,000 for installing energy efficient heating systems will be offered to homeowners in the U.K. from next year as Boris Johnson’s government tries to shore up its green credentials ahead of the COP26 summit.
The three-year boiler upgrade scheme will be worth £450 million in total and aims to ensure people choosing to install a heat pump will not pay more than they would for a traditional gas boiler.
A separate pot of £60 million will be allocated to designing clean heat systems which are smaller, easier to install and cheaper to run, under the government’s long-awaited heat and buildings strategy.
The program for decarbonizing buildings was originally due in the spring, but has faced delays as civil servants thrashed out the details amid a tussle between Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Treasury, Boris Johnson’s Downing Street and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over funding.
Ministers are expected to finalize two other key green documents this week — their net zero strategy and the Treasury’s net zero review — as the U.K.’s government-wide spending review and the COP26 talks loom large.
Delegates from some 130 countries will gather in Glasgow next month in the hope of hammering out a fresh set of commitments to limit global warming, while Johnson faces pressure from his own party colleagues over the cost of net zero for lower-income households.
Johnson hailed the new funds: “As we clean up the way we heat our homes over the next decade, we are backing our brilliant innovators to make clean technology like heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as gas boilers – supporting thousands of green jobs.”
And Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said moving to greener heating appliances would help reduce Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels which would “protect consumers in the long term” from recent “volatile” gas prices.
The strategy aligns with Johnson’s stated intention for all new heating systems installed in U.K. homes from 2035 to be low carbon.
But Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband called the plan “a meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response” to current pressures on the cost of living.
The opposition frontbencher said Labour would invest £6 billion a year in home insulation and zero carbon heating, adding: “People can’t warm their homes with yet more of Boris Johnson’s hot air, but that is all that is on offer.”
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