Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Government Fails to Get its House in Order on Carbon, Water and Waste.

Government Fails to Get its House in Order on Carbon, Water and Waste.

Government departments are failing to meet carbon, waste and water targets, according to a report published today by the Government's watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission.

The report, Sustainable Development in Government 2006, assesses Government operations to ensure that resources are managed sustainably. It finds patchy data and poor performance across most areas:


  • Departments generated more waste than last year. Total waste increased from 163,847 tonnes to 186,380 tonnes

  • Nine departments could not provide proper waste data

  • Departments are not on track to meet the carbon reduction target of 12.5% by 2010

  • On average, departments have reduced carbon emissions by 0.5% since 1999
  • However, 15 departments have increased carbon emissions since 1999*
  • Most departments are using energy less efficiently than they did in 1999


  • Departments failed to meet the target of 7.7m3 of water per person. Instead, departments consume an average of 10.2m3 per person.
  • The Cabinet Office was furthest from the target, consuming 19m3 water per person


  • From reporting departments, CO2 emissions from road transport have decreased by 14% since 2002
  • But this performance was devalued as eight departments were unable to provide proper data
  • The Department for Transport has increased CO2 emissions from road transport by approximately 40% since 2002
However, Sustainable Development in Government did identify some areas of progress:


  • Overall, recycling has risen by 8%. The Department of Health now recycles 85.4% of its waste

Renewable energy:

  • Government is buying 3% more of its electricity from renewable energy sources, compared to last year


  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest are well managed across the Government estate
Jonathon Porritt, SDC Chair, says:

"Overall, Government performance is simply not good enough. Against a background of non-stop messages on climate change and corporate social responsibility, the Government has failed to get its own house in order. It's absolutely inexcusable that Government is lagging so far behind the private sector, when it should be leading the way."

According to the SDC, the Government must:

  • Include sustainability targets in Permanent Secretaries' performance objectives
  • Include all departments in a carbon trading system
  • Provide departments and agencies with stronger support
  • Focus on departments with the biggest impacts
  • Extend targets to cover the entire public sector

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