The facts have changed but I don’t care

26th Oct 2020


The famous economist John Maynard Keynes has always been associated with the reflection that when the facts change, so does his opinion. It is a mature response that confirms the rational thinking of an individual. Can you imagine the opposite approach; the facts may have changed but my opinion stays the same?

First some background. Pre 2005, non-condensing boilers emitted on average 205mg of NOx per Kwh. The gain in efficiency with modern boilers from then, saw average new boiler emitting around 50mg per Kwh. That’s an 81 per cent reduction, and a great improvement in terms of air quality. Now that’s from a start point of UK gas boiler emissions being around 3 per cent of the overall total, so we are talking small numbers already.

Tests on hydrogen boilers suggest a further 50 per cent reduction and of course no carbon monoxide, so another step change for improved health. So imagine my surprise when the media ran coverage of a report suggesting that Covid, and using a gas boiler while working from home, would worsen air quality, especially in London.

It seems a body called the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (I haven’t made that up really) rehashed data using 2010 emissions to make their spurious claims. Their report obviously had nothing to do with the fact they want to see an end to gas heating in homes, honest guv, but the report did feature in the media. Key fact here: - since 2010, some 16 million condensing boilers have been fitted into UK homes.

This is the best bit. When challenged about the outdated statistics, here is the Twitter exchange in full: -

Me: “Tell me Richard, since 2010 how many condensing boilers, with massive NOx reductions compared to standard efficiency appliances, have been fitted into UK homes? Might this have an impact on the conclusion of this report?”

Richard Black, CEO of ECIU: “Presumably it has improved things Mike. Reduced energy waste, bills and carbon emissions. But it doesn’t change the report one jot.”

Let that just sink in a moment. These are the people who want to see an end to the gas network, regardless of the evidence. In the public policy debate, these are the attitudes our industry seeks to combat so we need to be ready.

 Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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