I NOTED with interest your article on the plan put forward by ScottishPower which, in part, aimed to help Glasgow decarbonise its heating sector by replacing everyone’s gas boiler with an air source heat pump ("Plans for electrifying Glasgow’s energy to meet net zero targets", The Herald, February 7).

Common Weal has researched this area extensively as part of Our Common Home – our blueprint for a Green New Deal for Scotland.

The “heat pump future” is one method of decarbonising our heating in some instances but I fear that it is a sub-optimal strategy in many cases, particularly since the proposal put forward does not appear to mention improvements to home insulation.

One advantage of heat pumps is that they can be installed without much infrastructure spending and are thus ideal for a private market looking to turn gas customers into electricity customers.

Instead, we could deliver the best possible outcome of decarbonised heating using a solution that is almost unknown in the UK but has been commonplace throughout parts of Europe for almost a century – district heating systems (DHS).

In a DHS we don’t deliver fuel for heating our homes but pipe in the heat itself. This heat can be generated by whatever heat source is best for the time and the location. Heat may come from renewable electricity but, unlike heat pumps, we could also take advantage of solar thermal, hydrogen, geothermal energy, heat from abandoned coal mines, or virtually any other source of heat. As new heating technologies come online, they can be plugged into the network without sending engineers round to every home to replace their systems. Covered reservoirs can store heat so that solar energy in the summer can be used in winter.

The challenge of this approach is that we don’t have many DHS in Scotland so we’ll have to build them. This will cost a fair amount but the investment will create thousands of well paid jobs across multiple sectors and if we form a public energy company to deliver it then the returns will flow back into the public purse.

This is an infrastructure proposal that matches the transition away from town gas. But if done right, these systems will provide a level of CO2 reduction, heat delivery and future-proofing unmatched by any other proposal.

Since Scotland is already behind schedule to meet its 2045 net-zero carbon target, we urge the Scottish Government to adopt the Our Common Home roadmap to create a future that is not only cleaner but is also more comfortable, has less fuel poverty and is simply better than the one we have today.

Dr Craig Dalzell, Head of Policy & Research, Common Weal, Glasgow G41.

ON the question of the UK’s responsibilities in relation to the climate crisis it is important to remember that Britain’s responsibility for global atmospheric CO2 started with the industrial revolution in the 18th century. The cumulative effect over the centuries must be recognised and atoned for. In this context I quote Boris Johnson talking of taking our obligations seriously: “Look at the historic emissions of the UK, we have a responsibility to our planet to lead in this way and to do this.”

However, above all, as Alan Ritchie maintains in his letter (February 10), “we should do the morally right thing because we can”. The UK has a good record over the centuries of leading the way in a variety of progressive causes, often in the face of opposition from powerful vested interests and their political allies. We should be proud of that role and commit to continuing it.

John Milne, Uddingston.