Is this the greenest public sector ever in the UK?

In a blog published today by The Carbon Trust, Tim Pryce, Head of the Public Sector at the CT asked “Is this the greenest public sector ever in the UK?”.

“Over the past five years it has often been repeated that the current government is aiming to be the UK’s greenest government ever. Over the same period we have seen a focus on austerity result in cuts to public sector budgets and jobs, which has directly impacted on the amount of resource and support available for improving environmental performance. So where has this left the public sector in its own drive for sustainability? And are they playing their part in helping to meet the UK’s ambitions on reducing carbon emissions, tackling climate change, and addressing the challenges of resource scarcity?”

Without doubt Tim has taken a very positive, but guarded, perspective. Having attended the conference in London to which Tim refers, it was well attended and yes, the public sector has made strides forward in reducing its carbon footprint. I would suggest that those in the room had probably contributed more than average and that Tim was speaking, by his own admission, to the committed and the converted.

In the coalition’s period of Government we have seen a number of commitments to deliver the objective of the ‘greenest government ever’. Off the top of my head I would refer to the introduction of the feed-in-tariff, the renewable heat incentive, the creation of the Heat Network Development Unit and the sustained commitment to low emission vehicles through OLEV. However, we have also seen the culling of the CERT and CESP mechanisms for funding energy efficiency in domestic properties throwing the insulation industry in to meltdown and the outright failure of the laudable, but unimplementable, Green Deal. Only a handful of organisations of local authorities have had the will, clout or funding to really make it a success.

My suspicion is the public sector carbon emission reductions have been as a direct result of austerity on a needs-must basis which has led to the sell-off of un-needed properties or simply being more frugal in heating spaces. Whilst the outcome looks good (reduced CO2 and energy consumed) it was achieved by doing all the easy, very short payback projects leaving the harder yards to the next government’s term. To achieve more going forward will require a longer term approach, more capital investment in infrastructure, energy efficiency and process improvement. I don’t see the government handing out lots of cash for that in the near term. Already the EU carbon targets are being seen as undeliverable by some. The UK’s credibility in contributing to them is at stake.

 

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Shaping cities: the future of urban policy | Think Cities

This is re-blog of Kate Henderson’s excellent piece on rebalancing the UK economy and providing a clear policy role for provincial cities outside of London. A concise synthesis of the arguments and a challenge to the incoming government.

“Despite much rhetoric from successive governments about ‘re-balancing the economy’ many of the signals show a reverse trend.  It is in the national interest to see growth and renewal supported across the nation and to reduce spatial social and economic inequalities. We are too small an island to do otherwise.” Read the full article here: Shaping cities: the future of urban policy | Think Cities.

Driving growth – Labour and electric cars > Article :: IPPR

Driving growth – Labour and electric cars > Article :: IPPR.

Last week, the government updated its electric car strategy. There is good news in it – especially the announcement of £500m to be made available over the next parliament to support electric cars. However, there are clear problems with this strategy so Labour has an opportunity to set out its own, more radical, agenda.

IPPR research has shown that in other countries innovative local policies drives sales. In Amsterdam, electric cars don’t pay the €5 an hour charge and are put to the top of the five-year waiting list for a permit. In the global capital for electric cars, Oslo, drivers can use the bus lanes. In China, electric cars are exempt from Beijing’s licence plate lottery which limits the days on which drivers can use their cars.