I counted the words ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability’ 20 times in a press release from the UK Government.
But first, more QUANGOs (Quasi – Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) are to be set up.
A “green tsar” paid up to £140,000 a year is to be appointed by the Government after it failed to meet its targets for helping the environment.
The Chief Sustainability Officer will help Whitehall departments do better after a watchdog said they had once again failed to meet their own targets for cutting waste, water use and carbon.
The Sustainable Development Commission said carbon emissions from government vehicles rose last year by 1.5 per cent.
But there’s more:
The power to raise and collect taxes on household rubbish is to be handed over to unelected waste quangos.
Ministers yesterday set out a scheme for rubbish-collection boards to take over the running of dustcarts, wheelie bins and municipal tips from town halls.
They will be given the right to set pay-as-you-throw rubbish charges, the controversial taxes Labour is introducing as a “financial incentive” to recycle more refuse and throw out less.
They will become the first unelected state bodies in modern times to get direct powers to raise their own taxes.
The Joint Waste Authorities will also take over from councils the armies of bin police who have the power to hand out on-the-spot fines to families who put their rubbish out at the wrong time or leave their wheelie bin lids open.
Below is the PR I referred to. Did I count the number of times ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability’ are used correctly?
New centre of expertise for cutting carbon emissions across Whitehall
Government response to Sustainable Development Commission’s Sustainable Development in Government annual report 2006/07
A new Centre of Expertise is to be set up to help Whitehall departments achieve their targets for reducing carbon emissions and waste across the government estate.
Details of the Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Procurement (CESP) were unveiled as the Government published its response to the Sustainable Development Commission’s latest report on how the Government is meeting its own sustainable objectives for tackling climate change.
Today’s annual Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report by the independent watchdog and adviser on sustainability shows a small improvement in the Government’s overall performance against its key ‘eco’ commitments – including a four per cent fall in carbon emissions across the estate by the end of 2006/7. However, the Commission called on departments to urgently build on initiatives already taken to ensure targets can be met and to demonstrate that the Government is leading by example on sustainability.
The CESP will be set up within the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) alongside the Government’s Chief Sustainability Officer – a new post to be appointed to take forward a culture of change across all departments in sustainable operations and procurement.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, who took personal charge of work in this area last March, has made sustainability of the government estate one of his four priorities for the civil service. Sir Gus said:
“The Civil Service must be fully committed to sustainable working, reflecting the increasing priority placed on environmental responsibility by the public we serve. We must find new and innovative ways of raising the bar for sustainable working, planning and procurement.
“There is still a long way to go but the establishment of the Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Procurement marks the culmination of significant progress over the last twelve months. This central co-ordination and guidance will help all government departments work to deliver sustainable working practices for the future.”
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said:
“In the year that has elapsed since the period covered by this report, departments have been working to cut emissions, waste and water use and to increase recycling levels.
“The measures we’re announcing today will help us to do better in the year ahead.”
Nigel Smith, Chief Executive of OGC, also spoke about the way forward to ensure sustainable practice and procurement. He said:
“Government is taking the issue of sustainability very seriously, but we recognise that we need to do a lot more in order to meet the targets we have set ourselves. We can only do this if we build on the best practice that exists across Government, and if we have good and robust information, so that we know what’s happening, what impact our actions are having and where the gaps are. I’m therefore delighted that the new Centre for Expertise is to be established in OGC, and that all Departments are committed to supporting its work.
“OGC has a strong track record in achieving quantifiable results across Government, based on robust data, clear standard-setting, and close and collaborative working with Departments to achieve delivery. We believe we are now well-placed to lead real change.”
The Government accepts in principle all the recommendations made by the SDC, and among the steps that will now be taken are the following:
From April 2008 all departmental heads will have a specific objective to meet Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets, against which their performance will be assessed
A major Green Government IT programme will be launched in the summer
From 2010 all central Government departments will be included in a pioneering emissions trading scheme, the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which will compel them to improve their energy efficiency. This mandatory emissions trading scheme will cover around 5000 public and private organisations, including government departments, retailers, banks and local authorities, which combined account for 10 per cent of the UK economy’s emissions
Action to achieve the work space efficiency standard of 12 square metres per FTE will be published in April 2008
From this summer all new vehicles used by ministers and permanent secretaries (except a small number exempt for operational reasons) will have carbon emissions below 130g/km
The use of bottled water for meetings and other official business is to be phased out across the whole government estate by the summer
In its response to the report, the Government accepts the need for more better and more accurate data against which the progress of departments can be measured. A major validation exercise to upgrade the quality of data provided to the SDC and the baselines used to assess performance has been undertaken in the past two months.
Notes to Editors
The 2007 Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report, published today, assesses the performance of central Government operations for 2006/07 against the targets of the Framework for Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE). It can be found at www.sd-commission.org.uk
The Government’s formal response to the 2007 SDiG report can be found at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/sustainable_development.aspx
Cabinet Office Press Office
Tel: 020 7276 1191 / 020 7276 1146
Fax: 020 7276 0618
18 March 2008
Talking of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, below is a graph illustrating how the UK is doing on the basis of both Environmental Accounts and Kyoto reporting requirements, taken from a new report by the National Audit Office:
As is pointed out on Prometheus:
“One point worth making is that the difference between UK Environmental Accounts and Kyoto accounting stems from international aviation and shipping (not included by Kyoto) and the treatment of tourists and nonresidents in the UK. These sort of issues obviously play a large role in the ability of countries to meet Kyoto targets. One wonders what the effect on the ability of countries to meet Kyoto targets would be if carbon emissions were accounted for on an UK Environmental Accounting Basis.
It would seem that the passage of ambitious targets and timetables for UK emissions reductions has been made less likely by this report, and yet at the same time it can’t be good news for those wanting that third runway at Heathrow.”
Here’s to sustainable sustainability. I’ll be returning to the UK Climate Change Bill at a later date.