UK courts green investment to fuel carbon-cutting plans

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Britain Global Investment Summit (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Britain Global Investment Summit (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The United Kingdom announced plans Tuesday to stop installing home heating that uses fossil fuels by 2035 as the government hosted a meeting aimed at attracting billions of dollars in foreign investment for green projects in Britain.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Global Investment Summit in London that private-sector investment and consumer pressure were key to slashing carbon emissions and controlling climate change.

“I can deploy billions,” Johnson told a room full of CEOs and other business leaders. “But you in this room, you can deploy trillions.”

“The market is going green,” he added.

Among pledges from the one-day meeting at London’s Science Museum was a partnership with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive 200 million pounds ($275 million) of private-sector investment in green power programs in the U.K.

The government says the gathering has attracted pledges of 10 billion pounds ($13.8 billion) in new overseas investment.

Johnson is set to host world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of the month for a U.N. climate summit. Known as COP26, the meeting is widely seen as the last chance to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

He said Britain has a responsibility to lead the world in decarbonizing, because as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, “we were the first to knit the deadly tea cosy of CO2 that is now driving climate change.”

He said Britain would phase out home heating with fossil fuels by 2035 as part of its goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The government said Tuesday that no new gas boilers will be installed after 2035, and from next year, households will be able to get grants of 5,000 pounds ($7,000) to replace gas boilers with low-carbon heat pumps.

Critics said the money allocated to the program, 450 million pounds ($622 million) over three years, is enough for only 90,000 homes.

“A clearer signal would have been a phase-out of new boilers before 2035,” said Caroline Jones of environmental group Greenpeace “And all of this must be delivered with a fully funded, nationwide program to insulate our homes at a scale and speed that the government hasn’t fully grasped.”

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