More than half of Scots support action to phase out fossil fuel boilers after Patrick Harvie announced plans to penalise the heating systems under a shake-up of energy efficiency ratings.

The Scottish Government’s Zero Carbon Buildings Minister will take the type of heating system into account in remodelled EPC ratings, meaning those with gas boilers will be downgraded compared to those with green systems such as heat pumps.

The overhaul comes before the Scottish Government mandates that all properties meet certain energy efficiency standards from 2025 at certain trigger points such as a sale.

Mr Harvie has estimated it will cost around £33bn to clean up how buildings in Scotland are heated, with the majority of funding yet to be sourced.

Read more: Gas boilers set to be penalised under energy efficiency overhaul

But polling from WWF Scotland has revealed that more than half of Scots support the action, while two thirds believe there should be new rules for better insulation in existing homes at trigger points.

The study of 2,026 people by Survation on behalf of WWF Scotland, found that 40% would consider installing a heat pump as an alternative to a fossil fuel boiler within the next five years, while 57% would install a heat pump with some or no support from the government.

The findings reveal that 71% of Scots are aware of the negative impact fossil fuel boilers have on the climate crisis while 80% believe higher oil and gas prices contribute to inflation and higher living costs.

The survey comes as the Scottish Government prepares to launch a consultation on policies to be included in its flagship Heat in Buildings Bill.

Read more: Patrick Harvie admits government 'decades behind' on renewable heating

Fossil fuel boilers in homes account for 15% of Scotland’s annual climate emissions.

Scotland has committed to cut 1990 levels of emissions by 75% by 2030. So far, around 50% has been reduced, meaning the same progress made in 30 years will need to be mirrored in the next seven years if the aim is to remain on track.

The majority of annual emissions targets have not been met.

The country has pledged to become net zero by 2045, ending its contribution to the climate crisis.

This Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy, published in 2021, proposed new rules to phase out the use of oil and gas boilers in homes and measures to improve their energy efficiency.

This would require action at key points like the replacement of a boiler or when buying and selling a house.

Fabrice Leveque, climate and energy policy manager at WWF Scotland, said: “These findings show there is strong public support to move away from fossil fuel heating and that people link the use of oil and gas heating to the growing climate emergency.

“Cleaner heating is vital to tackle climate change but can also make the most of Scotland’s abundant renewable energy, protect households from unstable fossil fuel prices and lower energy bills.

Read more: Humza Yousaf suggests gas boiler energy overhaul could be scaled back

"Industry and households need clear Scottish Government policies and financial support to make the switch and we must see the detail of these proposals without further delay.

“It’s been five years since the Scottish Government first consulted on these proposals and the next steps are overdue.”

Russell Dean, residential product group director at Mitsubishi Electric, which manufactures heat pumps at its factory in Livingston, said that heat pumps “are overwhelmingly the favoured source of renewable home heating”.

He added: “By taking positive action and by providing clear guidance for business to support renewable home heating, the government will remove risk and show that it is leading the way to decarbonise homes.

“This will encourage businesses to invest and innovate at a more rapid rate and show the dynamism that exists in the industry.”

Progress on these proposals will be a key test of the new First Minister Humza Yousaf’s climate credentials.

Earlier this year, The Herald revealed a report by WWF Scotland published that showed heat pumps are the best solution to decarbonise houses, with increasing numbers likely to see lower energy bills as a result, warning that pursuing hydrogen to heat homes is a distraction.

Read more: Heat pumps will cut energy bills amid fears over climate target

Andrew Lamond, director of the Energy Training Academy in Dalkeith, which provides training for new and existing heating engineers, said: “Standards requiring cleaner heating will play an important part in giving industry the confidence to invest in new staff, skills and training that will grow and develop the industry.

“Today, many heating engineers are still unsure as to what technologies they’ll be installing in the future, and the quicker that uncertainty is lifted the better.

“New standards should be phased in over time, with homeowners and tenants given advice and support to operate new heating systems correctly.”

Mr Harvie said: “Scotland already has the most generous grants available of any of the UK nations for households that are switching to climate-friendly heating systems, but in every country making this vital transition, regulation is needed to steer choices about energy use and heating systems and Scotland is no different.

“The changes we are proposing are essential, not just in making sure that Scotland meets the climate emergency head-on but in securing our energy future, providing the jobs and skills we need, and making us all less vulnerable to volatile fossil fuel prices.”