“The Greenshirts of the Boiler Police are not going to kick in your door with their sandal-clad feet and seize, at carrot-point, your trusty old combi,” he announced.
Yet, while colourful language is the Tory leader’s unique selling point, it does risk doing a disservice to climate change, and the issue’s seriousness, ahead of the COP26 summit.
The reason is this. Public confidence – and opinion – is critical if the entire UK economy, and way of life, is to be overhauled by 2050. Yet, with energy supplies and prices at the heart of the cost of living crisis, the Prime Minister risks being ignored unless there’s more clarity to Downing Street’s communications strategy.
A more effective plan might have involved the PM setting out, persuasively, the environmental and economic case for households switching to heat pumps, and its necessity.
The next phase would have involved the question of funding – promised grants of £5,000 only cover part of the costs and the £450m three-year pot will pay for 30,000 heat pumps a year, a fraction of what is needed. After all, it the lack of longer-term funding that has seen previous well-intended energy-saving schemes fall by the wayside.
And then the Government would be setting out the opportunities for new jobs in green energy – Sheffield Hallam University estimates that 600,000 heat pumps a year need to be fitted to meet the PM’s own target and that the wider energy industry requires 400,000 new workers.
This is not to criticise Mr Johnson’s intentions. Quite the opposite. It’s to ensure that his future policy pronouncements ahead of COP26 build a consensus for change on climate change rather than alienate the most important people of all – the public.
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