Amid the chaos in the House of Commons surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, you could easily have missed the second most important date in the government’s fiscal calendar, which happened last week – the chancellor’s spring statement.

But while Philip Hammond’s time in the political sun was cut short last week, he did put down some important markers. In energy and climate change, the chief of these was his controversial announcement that fossil fuel heating systems cannot be installed in new homes from 2025 onwards.

The ban will be part of a new future homes standard that puts long overdue flesh on the bones of the prime minister Theresa May’s promise a year or so ago to halve carbon emissions from new-build dwellings.

Hammond has not been seen as a friend of the environment, with critics contrasting the £60 million given for tree planting in last autumn’s Budget with the £30 billion for road building unveiled the same day.

More broadly the Treasury has often been labelled as the biggest institutional block within Whitehall to efforts to tackle climate change.

But Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, identified Hammond as a key player in last week’s gas announcements, which he said reflects a wider Treasury acceptance on the importance of decarbonising heat. Given the Treasury’s centrality to governmental decision-making, securing its full-throated support for the decarbonisation agenda would be a big fillip.

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