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How to avoid the ‘anti’ lobby

I attend the inaugural Heat Pump Summit in Oxford recently, in what turned out to be a great day of discussion and debate around the benefits and potential of heat pumps on our net zero journey

We know that they DO work, that they ARE available, and that THE SKILLS EXIST to install, maintain and handle them at end of life (albeit we know we need more engineers who are able to work on this transition).

My point about them being available is key in this transition.

We need to electrify our economy and move away from the consumption of fossil fuels, the burning of which releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide. However, the vested interests in fossil fuels don’t like this much and are doing all they can to slow the transition.

It’s the marketing ploy of instilling a negative perception of something

Martin Fahey Green Martin Fahey Head of Sustainability

Stop burning ‘stuff’

And despite false claims, there is no such thing as ‘clean’ burning.

Just less pollution than burning some other things would generate, so heat pumps also have general air quality benefits for us all, and are unique in the ability to buy into future grid emissions that are dropping as more and more renewable sources are added

As we look to rise to the challenge of installing 600k a year by 2028 and then on to a million plus from 2030 onwards, we are faced with a barrage of negative press and vested interests railing against this change.

Spoiler alert

A phrase was used during the summit “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)”, first used (so Wikipedia tells me!) in 1975 in relation to technology, although there are versions that go back a lot further than this.

Linked to the tobacco industry also, it’s the marketing ploy of instilling a negative perception of something based upon the placing of frighting articles and opinion pieces, all designed to sow uncertainty, (e.g. do they work in the cold?) and doubt around the whole transition.

Doubt, ‘if I invest in this technology, will it be around, do engineers know how to install and maintain yet, I don’t want to be first…..’

This is a well-rehearsed playbook that we have all seen before, whether from the tobacco industry or the fossil fuels lobby. We continue to see it in the electrification of vehicles.

Time for a reasoned debate

I am all for a debate. I love nothing more than a reasoned discussion on the pros and cons of something.

Within our Green Gateway document some 15 years ago was a call to ‘join the debate’ and while we maintain that there is a Heat Pump for Every Home, as well as many  commercial applications, our pledge will be to remain reasoned and pragmatic in our output and discussions with all, legislators, customers and end users.

So, please don’t fall for FUD.

Are heat pumps the only solution?

Of course not.

But they do work, they are available today, and work across multiple applications from domestic, commercial and industrial.

We need proven technologies like this to achieve our ambitious goals, and I for one am ready to take on the FUD merchants.

How about you?

Martin Fahey is Head of Sustainability