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EU HVACR sector criticises ‘political inaction’ on decarbonisation

A network of specialists working across the heating, cooling and energy sectors have queried a lack of clear political consensus to support meaningful change in EU building efficiency

Ambitions at both a national and EU level to realise fully decarbonised buildings over the next three decades have come under fire from the HVACR industry for a lack of clear political action and consensus.

The European Council is hoping for an agreement to be reached by December to set an EU-wide timeline to achieve carbon neutrality across all member states that would see stricter targets set for transforming buildings and their key services.

Several member states failed to reach an agreement at a previous European Council meeting last month. However, a spokesperson for the commission said the majority of EU member states did believe in introducing a 2050 target for net zero carbon emissions.

If a timeline can be approved by all member states in 2019, legislative work would then commence by 2020, according to the council.

However, a coalition of trade bodies working across the heating and cooling sectors have demanded an immediate strategy be introduced for decarbonising their industries that can be met via better industry preparedness and clear political ambition and planning.

The DecarbHeat initiative, a network of organisations and bodies that includes the European cooling body EPEE, the European Heat Pump Association, the Solar Heat Europe lobby group and Cogen, has criticised what it claims is a lack of political ambition for hampering a shift towards greener HVACR.

An integrated approach to building decarbonisation that focuses on the adoption of different technologies that can meet ‘local specificities’ across the EU was highlighted by DecarbHeat as a preferred industry option for defining future policy and legislation.

This approach would need to be matched by efforts to ensure citizens across the EU had sufficient information on making the right investment in heating and cooling technology, as well as introducing financial and legislative support to renovate existing buildings, the network added.

DecarbHeat said in a statement, “Without the right political and legislative signals, however, all efforts risk to be crippled – Europeans can’t afford any more indecisions.”

Paul Voss, head of the Euroheat & Power network that represents district energy specialists in the EU, argued that the entire HVACR industry should follow the example of the electricity sector.

He said, “What lessons can be learnt from the power sector when it comes to decarbonizing heating and cooling? The fact that creating the right policy pressure is essential”

A UK perspective

Despite calls for political commitment to net zero carbon, legislation is not always a guarantee of successful decarbonisation.

The UK, which is scheduled to end its status as a member state of the EU later this year, has recently passed legislation committing the country to a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

However, a report from the country’s influential Committee on Climate change (CCC) this week warned of concerns about actual progress in meeting the UK’s previous targets to curb carbon such as through transforming buildings and their key functions.

Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has warned that the net zero legislation would not viable without government drastically reshaping its energy efficiency policy and ensuring industry meet sufficient standards in delivering building services.

Committee chair MP Rachel Reeves said despite the recent legislative commitments, the CCC’s findings and its own research indicated that government policy was insufficient to ensure the needed level of decarbonisation in areas such as HVAC functions.

She said, “Getting to net-zero will require action across all parts of government and our economy. Yet, in areas such as electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy, we have seen the government has been too lacking in the ambition and political will to deliver the concrete policies necessary to make an impact.”

“The costs of inaction, for our economy, for our environment, and for our health, are too great for the UK Government to lag behind. The government needs to get the UK back on track and come forward with the policies, actions and regulations needed to achieve the more ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

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