Thursday, April 08, 2021

Climate Change: Doing the minimum again

Back in February the Climate Change Commission recommended a ban on new coal-fired boilers, and a phase out of existing ones by 2037. And today, the government has said they will implement that policy, and backed it up with funding to help transition some of our large pollution sources:

Coal-fired boilers used by heavy industry will soon be a thing of the past.

The government has announced a ban new low and medium temperature boilers from the end of this year and plans on phasing out existing ones by 2037.

An option proposed is to also prohibit other new fossil fuel boilers where suitable alternative technology exists and it is economically viable, the government said.

It was the first step taken in response to recommendations from the Climate Commission, and would reduce carbon emissions within the first three years equivalent to removing 49,000 cars from the roads.

Which is good, and helps, but at the same time: 2037 is not "soon", and it reinforces the sense that the government is just doing the minimum, complying with the Commission's recommendations rather than looking for ways they can go beyond them. In this case, they should be looking at a much faster phase-out - surely ten years is more than enough time for everyone with a dirty coal-fired boiler to replace it - combined with restrictions on new gas installations, and ultimately, a ban on mining and importing coal (with a revocation of existing consents). We also need to keep in mind that fossil fuels kill, and getting rid of them is a public health necessity as well as a climate change one. But instead, the government just seems to be dragging its feet.