Government ‘failing’ its own carbon and renewable energy targets

August 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

The Government is not on track to meet targets for cutting its own emissions, a committee of MPs has said.

The Environmental Audit Committee’s report warns that money will have to be paid to large private sector firms in a new carbon trading scheme due to begin in April 2010.

The Committee’s latest report on Greening Government also shows that the proportion of renewable energy used by Government departments has dropped in the last year.

Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“Unless the Government gets its house in order taxpayers could end up paying a heavy price to buy carbon credits from the private sector.

“In too many areas, like emissions of carbon dioxide from offices, it has made little or no progress and in others it is backsliding.

“Cutting Government energy bills with better insulation, solar panels and new heat and power boilers could save us lots of money in the long run—but Ministers have so far lacked the vision to invest for the future.”

The report welcomes improvements in some areas, such as on government road vehicles, where emissions have been cut by 10.3%.

But MPs are concerned that the Government is not doing enough to reduce energy use in its buildings – which account for the bulk of emissions – and will therefore fail to meet its target of a 12.5% reduction in carbon dioxide by 2010/11.

This could mean taxpayers have to pay for large amounts of carbon allowances under the Carbon Reduction Commitment – a carbon trading scheme which covers businesses, local authorities and public sector organisations above a certain size.

Carbon dioxide emissions from offices – by far the largest source of emissions on the Government estate -have only been reduced by 6.3% since the baseline year of 1999-2000.

The proportion of renewable energy used by Government dropped from 28.3% in 2006-2007 to 22% in 2007-2008.

And recycling rates dipped from 38.5% in 2006-2007 to 35% in 2007-2008. The Committee is unconvinced by the Government’s claim that it will ‘exceed’ its target of a 12.5% carbon emissions reduction by 2010-11.

The Committee found that to get on track the Government needed to:

* complete its review of its sustainability targets and in particular address the targets which were being too easily met;

* widen the scope of its targets to ensure that much more of the public sector was given meaningful targets for improving its environmental performance and the sustainability of its operations;

* ensure that its massive buying power was being used to drive demand for green technologies and energy-efficient products;

* improve the process for managing targets across government and make sure that permanent secretaries and ministers were held to account.

Click here to read the report.


Entry filed under: Committees, Commons. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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