Whitehall misses own targets on climate change

The government is missing its own targets on reducing waste and emissions, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) has discovered.

Overall, Whitehall’s performance is “hugely disappointing”, the SDC concludes, with most departments performing poorly or producing patchy data.

Jonathon Porritt, SDC Chair, said: “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.”

An eight per cent rise in recycling is overshadowed by a 20,000 ton increase in waste over the past year.

Whitehall is not on track to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 12.5 per cent by 2010, achieving a 0.5 per cent cut so far since 1999. Moreover, 15 departments have increased their carbon emissions.

The government is also consuming too much water per person and most departments are less energy efficient than in 1999. However, three per cent more energy comes from renewable sources.

To improve performance, Mr Porritt recommended that permanent secretaries are held accountable for meeting targets.

“For government to truly get to grips with this, it must ratchet up responsibility to the most senior level, instead of leaving it to hopelessly under-resourced officials down the line,” he argued.

Next week the government publishes a draft climate change bill, which would commit the UK to cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.