A new analysis shows that most EU governments pay millions of euro in subsidies to have new gas boilers installed in our homes, despite evidence that this is slowing down the uptake of renewable heat and undermining Europe’s 2030 climate goals.
Only seven countries in the EU have so far stopped the flood of public money going into fossil fuel heating as part of their climate or fiscal plans, the latest analysis by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) on behalf of Coolproducts shows. These include Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands. Outside of the EU, they are joined by Norway – see interactive map below.
At least 19 out of 27 EU governments still incentivise the purchase and/or installation of new gas boilers through various tax reductions, loans and grants, which range between €300 and €2,500 and are supposedly aimed at greening our homes.
State support for gas boilers, which can last up to 25 years, is slowing down the uptake of sustainable solutions such as heat pumps, renewable district heating and solar panels in the EU. In 2019, the share of geothermal, solar and other renewable sources of energy used in the heating and cooling sector was a mere 6% of the sector’s final energy consumption.*
This is jeopardising Europe’s climate targets. The European Commission estimates that a 40% reduction in gas heating emissions is needed to achieve the EU goal of slashing total emissions by at least 55% in the next decade.
The analysis comes as calls grow to ban the sale of gas, oil and coal heating systems across Europe. A recent report by ECOS on behalf of Coolproducts found that a phase-out of new gas and oil boilers by 2025 would save 110 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year through 2050. This would amount to two thirds of the total emissions reduction needed from residential and public buildings to achieve climate neutrality – and the equivalent of the total CO2 emissions of Sweden and Finland in 2018.
- The heating and cooling sector is responsible for half of the EU’s annual energy consumption and a third of its CO2 emissions.
- The EU has committed to phasing out all fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 as part of the Paris Agreement.
- The UK has recently announced its intention to ban new gas boilers by 2033.
- Italy has amongst the highest subsidies in Europe, with a tax rebate ranging from 65% to 110% of the costs for the sale and installation of a gas boiler.
- Countries such as Greece, Italy, Poland and some Austrian regions also subsidise oil or LPG condensing boilers.
- The Norwegian government does not subsidise fossil fuel heating. The sale of the new oil boilers was banned in 2020, while gas and LPG are taxed depending on their carbon content.
The information available in the map comes from several sources. All links are available in the accompanying report: Analysis of fossil fuel subsides in the heating and cooling sector across Europe.
*A breakdown of the latest Eurostat data available for sources of renewable heat across Europe is available here. Note that Eurostat also counts biomass towards the final share of renewable energy.
Gas boilers and other fossil fuels (Dark red); Gas boilers (Red); Regional subsidies to fossil fuels (orange); and No fossil fuel subsidies (green); No available data (grey)