Clean heat standards: New tools for the fossil fuel phaseout in Europe
Europe is heavily reliant on fossil fuels in the heating sector. The EU has set itself a goal of deploying 30 million additional heat pumps by 2030. To advance the transition away from fossil fuels in the heating sector, the EU and its Member States have recently proposed or agreed on several heat-related policies. This includes an emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases from heating and transport. The European Commission also announced that it will propose a revision of ecodesign rules for heating appliances, meaning a de facto ban on the sale of standalone fossil fuel boilers by 2029. Despite these positive actions, additional policy measures are needed to achieve rapid, effective and fair decarbonisation of heating.
This paper explores how novel policy tools called ‘clean heat standards’ could reinforce the EU framework for heat decarbonisation. Clean heat standards place a quantitative target on market actors, such as energy network companies, energy suppliers and manufacturers of heating equipment, to decarbonise heating and provide some flexibility in how to achieve it. This definition captures different tools, including some already discussed or in use in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. These tools can complement other clean transition policies, for instance appliance standards and bans can directly rule out certain technologies from the market, while clean heat standards could provide a positive target for market actors to meet.
Clean heat standards, coupled with complementary policies, can help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel heating. RAP offers recommendations to help decision-makers make the most of these tools.