Net Zero (Housing)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 1st September 2021.

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Photo of Mark Griffin Mark Griffin Labour

5. I draw members’ attention to my entry in the register of members’ interests, as I am the owner of a rental property in North Lanarkshire.

To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it has commissioned of the likely costs to homeowners and landlords of reaching net zero emissions in housing by 2045. (S6O-00077)

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

Scottish Government analysis suggests that the total capital costs of converting our building stock to zero emissions by 2045 is in the region of £33 billion. That includes the installation of zero-emissions heat and energy efficiency measures in both domestic and non-domestic buildings. It does not take account of the business-as-usual investments that households and businesses would need to make in order to replace fossil-fuel boilers as they reach the end of their lives, nor the additional investment that is likely to be needed in wider energy infrastructure. The Government has commissioned a range of further research to understand the wider costs that are associated with the heat transition, and that work will be published once it is finalised.

Photo of Mark Griffin Mark Griffin Labour

Recent announcements on the decarbonisation of all properties across all tenures in the wider Glasgow city region put the cost at £9 billion to decarbonise their heating and make them energy efficient. Two thirds of those properties—300,000—are owner-occupied. While some owner-occupiers will be able to afford to make a contribution, we know that many, including in my region, will not. Can the minister set out the Government’s plans to support low-income owner-occupiers who have little savings, the expectations on those owner-occupiers and the support that the Government will provide to enable them to participate fully in the journey towards 2045?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

No one doubts that that is a mammoth challenge for us all, which will have a wide range of impacts on people in different tenures and economic circumstances. The Scottish Government already makes support available—for example, through the home energy Scotland loan scheme, which involves interest-free unsecured loans of up to £38,500 per home to enable owner-occupiers to install energy efficiency and heating measures and a cashback scheme that provides eligible households with up to £13,500 towards zero-emissions heating systems and energy efficiency measures. A range of other schemes are also in place, including area-based schemes, which have been extended to include zero-emissions heating, and the Scottish Government has also introduced a top-up grant to support that process.

The member is well aware that we will continue to research the scale of the challenge and the steps that both this Government and the UK Government need to take. The actions of the latter will be necessary to make zero-carbon heating systems affordable by comparison with fossil-fuel ones.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I will allow a brief supplementary question from Liam Kerr.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

The cabinet secretary recently told me that it would cost £17,000 per property to upgrade off-gas-grid homes from EPC bands E to G to EPC band C. There are around 500,000 off-grid homes, more than 100,000 of which cannot be fitted with a heat pump; so, even if it were just those upgrades, it would cost more than £1 billion—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That is not brief, Mr Kerr.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

What analysis has been done of that process and who will be expected to pay?

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

I have already indicated a significant range of measures by which the public purse helps to meet those costs. Obviously, the public purse cannot meet all of them, nor should homeowners do so. We all have to rise to the challenge.

In relation to heat pumps, most of us recognise that not one single solution is right for every property in every location. We do not intend to take a mandatory approach to imposing a single solution for all properties. As with Mr Griffin, I am sure that the Government will want to keep Mr Kerr and all parties informed of further work in that area.