A new brand audit reveals that most of Europe’s leading manufacturers of heating systems are delaying the phase-out of fossil gas and oil boilers, putting the EU on path to miss its 2030 and 2050 climate targets.
The heating and cooling sector is responsible for half of the EU’s annual energy consumption and a third of its CO2 emissions.
Yet, despite efforts to portray themselves as sustainable, most of Europe’s leading manufacturers of heating systems haven’t yet disclosed plans to switch production from fossil-fuel boilers to solar thermal systems and heat pumps, according to a brand audit and questionnaire evaluating the climate-compatibility of their portfolios.
The report was commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) – Europe’s largest network of green groups – on behalf of the Coolproducts campaign.
The audit reveals that 42 out of 53 companies interviewed either refused to disclose information about their climate plans or admitted having no such plans. These companies include big names such as Bosch, Carrier and Toyota.
Of the remaining companies surveyed, only six sell exclusively heat pumps and solar heating systems, while five are in the process of transitioning towards sustainable solutions.
EU officials are currently drafting plans for what campaigners expect to be a gradual phase-out of gas and oil boilers, in line with Europe’s plans for the renovation and decarbonisation of our homes. Estimates by the European Commission point to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 60% in order to achieve the EU’s goal of slashing total emissions by at least 55% in the next decade.
On this note, the survey shows that most respondents would support a ban should the EU institutions propose one. The audit also found overwhelming support among respondents for an immediate end of subsidies incentivising the uptake of fossil-fuel technologies.
But time is running out. Due to the long shelf life of heating systems (up to 25 years), the installation of new gas boilers must end by 2025 for carbon neutrality to become a reality by 2050. 
Stephane Arditi, Director of Policy Integration at the European Environmental Bureau, said:
“We need companies to do their part in the transition to clean energy, particularly those that have been benefiting from decades of climate-wrecking business decisions and government subsidies.
Our research shows that some manufacturers are already leading the way out of fossil-fuel heating, proving that the transition is not only possible with the right investments and incentives in place, but also desirable.”
Mélissa Zill, programme manager at ECOS, said:
‘Fossil gas and oil-fired boilers have no place in a climate neutral European Union. Manufacturers must think forward and change their business models accordingly, instead of looking back and promoting fossil-fuel boilers – it’s time to accept they are a thing of the past”