Energy minister to consider departmental carbon budgets
The energy and clean growth minister has told MPs he will look into the idea that government departments should be setting their own carbon budgets.
Giving evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee yesterday, Kwasi Kwarteng was pressed on whether individual ministries should be set budgets limiting their emissions in order to help implement the wider drive to reach net-zero across government.
He said the idea is a “fair” and “reasonable” one, which he would consider, adding that it is “quite right” for the government to take a lead on cutting emissions.
Kwarteng also defended the government’s progress on cutting emissions from its estate, which he told the committee were down by 57 per cent since 2010.
Responding to criticism by the committee’s chair Mary Creagh that this reduction had largely been achieved by slimming down the government estate, he said: “Consolidating the estate and making the whole department more efficient in terms of its energy use is part of that.”
But investment in decarbonisation had to be balanced against other government objectives, Kwarteng said: “We have a finite amount of resources and have to make decisions about how to spend that money.”
Responding to the suggestion that measures like energy efficiency could be ringfenced from other government spending, he warned that this would limit managers’ flexibility when responding to other problems, like leaking roofs.
Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart agreed. “We have to balance the cost of implementing the changes and impact that might have on the rest of the services.”
Kwarteng also revealed that he had insisted on using an electric vehicle (EV) when being driven on ministerial duties since joining the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
But Creagh said the government could do more to procure EVs, pointing to figures showing that the NHS runs only 44 electric ambulances.
She said ensuring every vehicle procured by the NHS is electric would stimulate demand across the country, reduce the cost of EVs and encourage a second-hand market.
This article appeared first on edie's sister title, Utility Week