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EU must prioritise clean heating and cooling

BELGIUM: Claiming that the EU and national governments are currently failing to support a clean heat roll-out, a new report urges the next European Commission to make it a political priority.

The study – How Europe Can Fill the Clean Heat Gap – maintains that policies are not yet strong or consistent enough to encourage a wide-scale uptake of clean heating and cooling systems. 

This is based on a study of the clean heat readiness of 12 EU countries by research firm Trinomics on behalf of the Clean Heat Europe coalition. It found that, of the 12, some have made good progress towards supporting the clean heat sector and consumers, but most are not yet taking enough action. 

Half of the 12 countries studied – Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, and Sweden – plan to phase out fossil heating, and almost all provide technical assistance to consumers who switch to clean heat. All countries offer some financial support, but in many this is limited. Out of the countries analysed, only half support low-income households.  

Many countries also still provide subsidies for fossil heating, and in some countries the price of electricity is too high to encourage the switch, the report finds. Seven countries surveyed have local heating and cooling plans, but in many countries complex administrative processes hinder the transition. 

“We urge the next European Commission and national governments to make clean heating and cooling a political priority,” commented Jozefien Vanbecelaere, the EHPA’s head of EU affairs. “With ambitious policy signals, Europe can strengthen its clean heat industry, boost clean tech competitiveness, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect households, businesses and industry from volatile fossil fuel prices.”   

The report recommends the rapid publication of the EU Heat Pump Action Plan and a revised EU heating and cooling strategy, as well as clear national heating and cooling targets. It also backs financial support, in particular for low-income households, and lower electricity costs to ensure a just transition to clean heat, as well as technical support through requirements for new and renovated buildings, and device interoperability. 

“The report points to the critical need to accelerate heating and cooling decarbonisation in buildings,” said Pauline Lucas, policy director at Euroheat & Power. “Access to affordable clean heat solutions such as district heating should be hassle free and affordable for all citizens.”

Formed at the end of last year, Clean Heat Europe is a coalition of Eurobeat and Power, representing the district energy sector, the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), the International Copper Association and SolarPower Europe and the European Climate Foundation.

A copy of the report can be read and downloaded here.

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