UK raises public sector greenhouse gas target

After the public sector met its 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets three years early, the UK Government has this week increased the aim by 10% in a bid to green the sector while saving more than £300m.

The industry met the previous pledge to cut GHG emissions by a third, against a 2009-10 baseline, in 2017, leading ministers to up this target to 43% this week.

The more ambitious aim, announced on Thursday (July 5), targets emissions from energy, waste, water use, lighting and estate management, with the Government pledging to offer local authorities guidance on how to cut their own carbon footprint to meet the goal.

Announcing the deal in Newcastle, Business Secretary Greg Clark said working towards the higher GHG target could save the public purse £340m by 2020, after the public sector last year saved £104m through clean growth and energy efficiency measures.

“The potential savings from this can make a big difference across the wider public sector, with the NHS saving £2bn over the last decade; money that can be put straight back into frontline services where it’s needed most,” Clark told delegates at the Northern Powerhouse Summit.

“Our new, ambitious target for reducing emissions across our central estate shows how this government is continuing to lead the world and rise to the challenge of tackling climate change.”

Clark noted that more than £8trn ($11trn) of investment is expected to pour into the global power sector over the next 30 years, with 86% of the funds aimed at low-carbon technologies.

All change

Clark’s announcement was accompanied by numerous measures to reduce emissions across several sectors, including an £18m Industrial Heat Recovery Support programme, which will open this Autumn in a bid to help companies scale up low-carbon heating technologies.

The programme is intended to encourage investment in technologies that can harness waste heat for re-use, reducing emissions and costs in a notoriously carbon-heavy sector.

The Business Secretary also unveiled the much-awaited Construction Sector Deal, which provides a framework for the built environment sector to halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.

The £460m deal, which details £170m of Government investment and £250m of private sector funding to green the sector and improve construction times, additionally sets an ongoing target of halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the industry.

Sarah George

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