Whitehall commits to carbon reductions

Whitehall departments will be included in a new UK emissions trading scheme that will target emissions from large businesses such as supermarkets and hotel chains.

Ministers announced that all central Government departments will take part in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), a mandatory scheme set to begin operating in 2010.

Under the CRC, about 5,000 public and private organisations that together account for 10% of the UK economy’s emissions, will have to reduce emissions or pay for extra credits.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said local authorities and hospitals will also be supported in becoming more energy efficient through an extra £30m in interest-free loans over the next three years.

“The Government has to show it’s serious about reducing CO2 emissions,” he said.

“This means the public sector improving the energy efficiency of its buildings and doing this quickly.”

Mr Benn added: “It won’t be easy for all organisations in the public sector to cut their emissions quickly, even though they’ll be saving taxpayers’ money in the long run by reducing energy bills.

“That’s why we’re making £30m in interest-free loans available.”

The boost to the loans scheme will be drawn from a £400m fund announced last month.

It adds to an existing fund of £21m which has already been used by 100 public bodies to pay for nearly 1,000 energy efficiency projects.

Government has now also published its response to a consultation on the CRC – a scheme which ministers hope will save at least 4m tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie