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The EU has reached an agreement to reduce the amount of emissions produced by households and buildings.

By 2030, all new constructions in the EU must be free of emissions from fossil fuels. Additionally, under a new agreement on energy and housing, boilers that rely on these sources will be prohibited by 2040.

The guidelines, which have been approved by both MEPs and member states but have not yet been officially adopted, establish goals for reducing energy waste in buildings. By 2025, subsidies for individual oil and gas boilers will be discontinued.

According to Ciaran Cuffe, an Irish MEP leading the proposal, wasting energy equals wasting money on bills. The focus should be on assisting citizens in saving money and shielding them from fluctuating energy costs.

More than a third of the EU’s planet-heating pollution comes from its buildings, many of which are old, leaky and heated by burning fossil fuels. The agreement seeks to phase out oil and gas boilers by 2040, though under the new rules it will continue to subsidise hybrid systems.

Thomas Nowak, the head of the European Heat Pump Association, said: “Setting a date for ending fossil fuel heating in Europe’s buildings provides crucial clarity for consumers, and charts the path for the heating sector. It makes any investment in heat pump solutions a future-proof choice.”

The International Energy Agency has developed a roadmap for achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which includes the use of heat pumps to efficiently and cleanly warm buildings. Despite their cost, heat pumps are considered the primary solution for decarbonizing buildings. The European Commission plans to release an action plan in early 2024 to promote the construction and installation of more heat pumps.

If the deal reached on Thursday evening is accepted as is, it will require member countries to install solar panels on a greater number of buildings. This will initially apply to new public buildings and offices, and will eventually extend to include new residential homes by 2030.

According to Jan Osenberg, a policy consultant for SolarPower Europe, these regulations will facilitate the incorporation of solar panel systems in construction procedures and ultimately lead to cost savings. Osenberg also stated that this is a strategic move towards a future where having solar panels on rooftops is just as commonplace as owning a washing machine.

This agreement allows member states to make exemptions for agricultural and historical structures, as well as churches and other religious sites.

Striking examples of green-tinged architecture have sprung up across Europe in recent decades, from the tree-filled Bosco Verticale in Milan to the plywood skyscraper in Sweden’s Skellefteå. The big challenge for policymakers is cleaning up the millions of old buildings that leak heat and cost a lot to renovate.

As part of the agreement, member countries will be required to reduce the average primary energy consumption in households by a minimum of 16% by 2030 and a minimum of 20% by 2035. This is a compromise from the European Commission’s initial plans to renovate the most energy inefficient homes, which faced strong opposition from member states.

Eva Brardinelli, a specialist in architecture at the European division of the Climate Action Network, expressed that the proposal had been weakened by a threatening campaign from the fossil fuel industry and right-wing populists. She stated that the ultimate decision on the directive had missed a crucial chance to alleviate energy poverty and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Source: theguardian.com