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Stop funding new gas boilers – NGO and industry letter

Industry groups and NGOs condemn unfair competition and hostile market conditions for renewable heat solutions in a letter to the European Commission. The groups call for an EU-wide plan to stop subsidising the installation of new gas boilers, warning that inaction could cost Europe its climate neutrality goals.

Renewable heat solutions such as solar power and heat pumps can help make European homes and offices climate neutral by 2040. [1]

But despite a stable growth in sales and market shares, these technologies are struggling to reach the needed pace of market penetration to keep in line with climate targets, according to Coolproducts campaigners and industry groups Euroheat & Power and Solar Heat Europe.

This is mostly due to an unfavourable fiscal regime that incentivises the installation of long-lasting and polluting fossil heating systems. Lower taxes, state subsidies and the lack of adequate carbon pricing have made gas boilers cheaper to replace with another gas boiler than to replace them with a truly efficient and clean system.

This is contributing to the false perception that fossil fuels-based technologies can be “green”. In reality, the EU’s heat supply is responsible for a third of the bloc’s CO2 emissions, with gas boilers being the single largest source. [2]

In an open letter sent to the European Commission today, NGOs under the Coolproducts campaign teamed up with Solar Heat Europe and Euroheat & Power asking for:

  • A revision of the Energy Tax Directive that fully reflects the environmental costs of all fossil energy carriers;
  • A complete ban on state incentives on fossil fuels heating technologies throughout the European Union by 2022;
  • A revision of energy labelling scheme and ecodesign to stop the undue “green image” that condensing gas boilers now enjoy from being counted as A class [3] and to progressively phase them out [4]
  • The decarbonisation of heat supply from now until 2030 in such a way that fossil-based technologies can only be installed as a back-up to renewables systems.

On behalf of the Coolproducts campaign, the European Environmental Bureau’s heating and cooling expert Davide Sabbadin said:

“Europe is going to miss its climate neutrality target if fossil fuel boilers stay in our homes indefinitely. Our governments and institutions must intervene to help people switch from polluting appliances to truly sustainable solutions.” 

Context

The power to introduce taxes is in the hands of national governments, but the EU can set harmonised minimum rates on certain products. With this in mind, the European Commission is currently revising its Energy Tax Directive with the intention of aligning energy prices with its climate objectives. No changes have been made to this directive since 2003.

The Commission is also revising the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling regulation for space and water heaters, including gas boilers. Coolproducts campaigners have urged the Commission to proceed with an in-depth revision that would pave the way for a gradual phase-out of fossil fuel boilers rated F and G.

The Commission has already made the renovation of buildings one of its top priorities under the European Green Deal, promising to invest billions of euros to make our homes and offices more energy efficient. While necessary, this approach alone is doomed to fail if governments and institutions refuse to shift incentives towards truly sustainable solutions such as heat pumps, solar power and fossil fuel-free district heating.

The Commission should take the building renovation wave [6]  as an opportunity to boost the decarbonisation rate of heating and cooling systems.

Notes for editors

Coolproducts is a coalition of NGOs promoting energy and resource efficiency through eco-design and energy labelling. The campaign is led by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and ECOS, representing over 200 green groups across Europe.

Solar Heat Europe is the voice of the solar heat industry, actively promoting the use of solar thermal technology for renewable heating and cooling in Europe. With around 50 members in Europe, the organisation represents directly or indirectly over 90% of the industry across the value chain.

Euro Heat and Power is the international network for district energy, connecting industry players, decision-makers and academia in a joint effort to drive forward sustainable heating and cooling.

Open letter to the European Commision
[1] https://eeb.org/new-energy-scenario-sets-path-to-climate-neutral-europe-by-2040/
[2] https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/DG_Energy_Infographic_heatingandcolling2016.jpg
[3] https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/gas-boilers-deserve-an-f-not-an-a/
[4] https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/cooling-down-europes-heating-system/
[5] https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/energy-efficiency/energy-efficient-buildings/renovation-wave_en

For more information:

Mauro Anastasio - Communications Officer

mauro.anastasio@eeb.org