Government slashes greenhouse gas emissions in buildings and transport

Central Government has cut greenhouse gas emissions in its buildings and transport by 27 per cent since the Conservative Party began leading the Government again in 2010.

Savings worth £127m are being achieved through reduced energy consumption. This is as opposed to £40m savings claimed to already have been made in the first year’s report, issued for 2012/3.

The latest Cabinet Office/DEFRA Greening Government report reveals that, up to April 2016, savings had been made right across Whitehall, with 19 out of 22 government departments meeting or exceeding the original 25 per cent reduction – thus enabling an overall cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 27 per cent to be achieved. Although not part of the official target, statistics are also available reporting on environmental progress from “arms length” bodies like the Medical Research Council, the UKAEA and the Science & Technologies Facilities Council.

While the report congratulates itself upon “the transparency of statistics”, for the second year running there is a paucity of detailed energy consumption data made available. Although the “savings worth £125m in energy consumption” claim is one of the three claims featured most prominently, nowhere in the report are any further statistics provided, to amplify this statement.

Nor do previous annual reports provide any base year statistics regarding actual consumption levels. The only relevant footnote simply refers to the calculated costs per unit of gas and electricity, rather than attempting to report upon the actual number of units consumed. It is stated that these savings are “compared to the 2009/10 baseline.” But nowhere is the absolute number of kilowatt hours consumed, for either year, provided. Obviously, these numbers will have been available, in all probability department by department, to have enabled that main statement to be made.

However, much attention is drawn to the activities of the Treasury’s own in-house Environment Network. It hosts monthly seminars, with speakers drawn from business, academia and international organisations. “As well as being of interest to those working on energy and environment policy, discussions are relevant to those working across the Treasury, including on infrastructure, competition and living costs.”

Among recent seminars are: a talk on materials efficiency; scenarios for meeting the 80 per cent greenhouse gas emissions target for 2015 (sic); smart systems, heat and hydrogen in the UK energy market; and a demonstration of smart meters, home displays and various energy efficiency apps.

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