Government failing emission targets

The government is failing to meet targets for carbon emissions, according to its own watchdog.

The Sustainable Development Commission found office carbon emissions are not falling fast enough – despite improvements – to reach targets of a 12.5 per cent reduction by 2010-11.

“There’s still a long way to go – and it’s clear that these targets must be the start of an ever more ambitious sustainability programme,” said Rebecca Willis, vice chair of the Commission.

“In the current climate of volatile energy costs and financial constraints, these targets make good economic sense.

“And now that the UK has committed itself to a world-leading 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, and the committee on climate change has recommended a reduction of 34 per cent by 2020, the government needs to demonstrate in practice how such cuts can be met.”

An Office of Government Commerce spokesman said: “Progress has continued to be made since the period reviewed by the Commission, and a comprehensive delivery plan has been produced by the government detailing departmental activities to achieve the targets for sustainable operations across Whitehall.”

Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth, said: “The government’s commitment to tackling climate change is undermined by its failure to cut emissions quickly enough from its own offices and buildings.

“Ministers must lead by example and ensure that their departments show the urgency required.”

The government refutes the claim it is not committed to preserving the environment.

“The government is fully committed to protecting the environment, including working to limit the effects of climate change within its own estate,” the spokesman continued.

But the data did highlight significant steps in reducing waste, water consumption and emissions from road travel.

“It’s great to see departments finally starting to prioritise their sustainability duties and make progress in many areas,” Ms Willis said.

Recycling and electricity from renewable sources are both on track to meet the set targets but are down on last year’s total
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The government plans to decrease carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 in a bid to combat climate change.