Under new plans currently under consideration in Whitehall, families across the UK could be sent annual payments to offset the cost of higher gas bills, and encourage them to switch to green energy instead.
The proposals, which are being discussed by senior government advisers, would see households compensated for increased gas bills that will occur as a result of the drive to cut carbon emissions.
Households issued payments
The scheme would see households get paid a set amount each year, with the payment size being determined by how much the Government has increased carbon taxes.
The payments would be issued regardless of each individual household’s emissions, meaning those who still use gas and those who have switched to cheaper green energy will be paid the same, which would allow households with cheaper green energy to save the difference.
The plans come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to reach net-zero emissions without implementing unrealistically higher costs on consumers.
The Times has reported that sources have said that should the proposal be introduced in the UK, it would likely only be paid to low and middle income families.
The proposal being considered is modelled on an initiative that was introduced in Canada in 2018.
‘Must have a solution that is affordable’
Speaking to MPs Johnson said: “We’ve got to make sure than when we embark on this programme that we have a solution that is affordable, and that works for people.
“This government is determined to keep bills low and that is a priority.”
Green business leaders have responded to the plans on the likes of social media platforms such as Twitter.
Clem Cowton, Director of External Affairs at Octopus Energy Group, said that the plans are a “smart move”, writing: “Cheaper electricity bills for all, and extra help to support those whose gas will go up before they can afford to switch to cheap electric heating.
“Devil always in the detail but if they pull this off, they’ve squared a bloody tricky circle.”
Sam Hall, Executive Director of the Conservative Environmental Network, wrote: “Together with support for people to retrofit homes, this would be a strong package for heat decarbonisation.”
The Zero Carbon Campaign responded to Hall’s Tweet, adding: “Fantastic to see the Government putting serious consideration into how it can make the transition fair and mitigate costs for those who can’t afford to pay.
“We’re particularly pleased that payments will be targeted to benefit those low and middle income families who need them most.”
UK net zero goals
In 2019, Parliament passed legislation that requires the Government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent, relative to 1990 levels, by 2050.
This would make the UK a “net zero” emitter. Previously, the UK was committed to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent of their 1990 levels, also by 2050.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which is a non-departmental public body that advises the Government on climate related issues, recommended that the UK aims to be net zero on all greenhouse gases by 2050.
This move would keep the UK in line with the commitments it made as part of the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep global warming under two degrees.
According to the Institute for Government, “the UK is currently not on track to meet its previous, less ambitious, target of 80 per cent emissions reductions by 2050”, and the CCC has said that reaching the current 100 per cent target is “technically feasible but highly challenging”.