Climate Change Committee Chair, not just the climate, on fire.

22nd Jan 2018


Global warming may already be upon us and last week, the Chair of the CCC, Lord Deben, was certainly on fire. At the launch of the CCC’s report into the Clean Growth Plan, Lord Deben laid into a number of groups

Firstly, he started on housebuilders, in particular Persimmons. He made the point that housebuilders should be building new homes to Passivhaus standards because it is the right thing to do, despite Government regulations not being in place to force them to. Obviously he got a loud round of applause for stating this – more so when he rounded on Persimmon’s bonus payment to its CEO (I’ve seen countless political figures playing to the audience, it’s an easier gig than telling them something they don’t want to, but need to hear).

I’m not saying he was wrong – far from it in fact. Decarbonising domestic heat is easiest to do in new build and importantly, it secures buy-in from consumers who have a choice – they accept the heating system or don’t buy the house. Compare that to forcing retrofit upon a consumer who desperately is in need of a distress purchase.

Lord Deben, then turned on the heat pump industry. He claimed they sell so few because they aren’t very good at selling their products. He suggested a better “narrative” was needed otherwise the UK will not develop the industry in the manner it needs to. I take a slightly different view. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that having a heat pump in an older property (and less thermally efficient) does not give the results consumers want – either in cost or comfort.

Now here’s a thought. I have it on good authority, but I’m happy to stand corrected it if it isn’t true, that both Lord Deben and the Minister for Climate Change, both have oil boilers not heat pumps at their homes. What does this say?