ANAS Sarwar has been told to urgently “clarify” Scottish Labour’s position on heat pumps after “misleading and confusing” claims made by a party peer.

Last week, a row erupted between the Scottish Greens and Labour after Lord Willie Haughey claimed that he did not believe installing heat pumps would reduce household’s carbon footprints.

Haughey also claimed that the heating systems would struggle to operate when temperatures dip below freezing, a claim disputed by the Greens who pointed to countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden who are already utilising the technology.

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The millionaire Labour peer has previously blamed the Scottish Government’s rent freeze for putting a £1 billion housing project “on hold”.

And now, Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell has written to the Scottish Labour leader urging him to clarify his party’s position or “risk undermining a critical component of our collective efforts to tackle the climate crisis”.

In a letter seen by The National, Ruskell pointed out that Scottish Labour supported the statutory climate targets which require a “significant” change in how households are heated.

“I am therefore writing to ask that you take urgent action to clarify Scottish Labour’s position on this issue and clearly distance your party from the misleading and confusing claims being made by Lord Haughey,” Ruskell wrote.

The National: Haughey made the claims about heat pumps on the BBCHaughey made the claims about heat pumps on the BBC (Image: free)

These claims have included that heat pumps do not lower a household’s carbon footprint and that they do not work in cold temperatures. These statements are contrary to the findings of the International Energy Agency, which has concluded that ‘Heat pumps currently on the market today are three-to-five-times more energy efficient than natural gas boilers’.

“Further, their research has found that replacing fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps ‘significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions in all major heating markets, even with the current electricity generation mix’.”

Ruskell also set out how the technology is taking root in the rest of Europe “at pace”, with Nordic countries at the forefront of deployment of the tech for “many years”.

“It’s striking that none of these countries are unfamiliar with low winter temperatures, in fact, several have average winter temperatures lower than Scotland’s,” Ruskell added.

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“Again this contradicts Lord Haughey’s claim that heat pumps are not suitable for Scotland’s climate.”

Haughey’s insistence on using electric heating systems would mean “higher energy demand, higher bills, greater fuel poverty and increased pressure on the grid,” the Scottish Greens MSP added.

And as the peer has donated over £88,000 to Scottish Labour since 2017, including £10,000 to Sarwar himself, the Greens demanded clarity on whether the peers “views have influenced Scottish Labour’s position on this issue”.

“It would be particularly concerning if he has influenced your policy on this, given he is not a manufacturer of domestic heat pumps for space and water heating, as has been claimed in some parts of the media, but rather chair of a business which provides refrigeration and facilities management to large business, retail, and commercial units,” Ruskell added.

The National: Ruskell called for Scottish Labour to clarify their positionRuskell called for Scottish Labour to clarify their position

The Greens MSP asked the Scottish Labour leader to clarify if the party’s 2021 manifesto commitment to ensure all homes are zero carbon by 2045, with at least 90% fitted “with a form of renewable heat such as heat pumps” still stands.

Scottish Labour did not respond to our request for comment.

We previously told how Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie defended the use of heat pumps after Haughey’s claims last week.

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Haughey told the BBC: “It is not feasible to think for one minute that a heat pump is an alternative heat source and if anyone thinks, everyone wants to do their bit to get to carbon zero, but there’s no way you could say that a heat pump does anything to reduce your footprint.

“You’ll probably use more. It still plugs into the grid, it’s run by electricity so how can Patrick Harvie say he’s going to give someone a superior energy certificate because they’ve got a heat pump.”

Harvie dismissed Haughey’s claims and said the peer had given a “slightly confused interview”.