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New commitments for Greening Government

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Included in the Coalition Government’s vision for sustainable development and the package of measures to deliver it, published on 28th February 2011, are new commitments for greening Government operations and procurement.

The Government intends to demonstrate leadership on the sustainability of its operations by reducing the resource use and waste of central Government, and to report openly on how its operations address wider issues of sustainability. The Coalition Government aims to be the greenest Government ever, through a step change in leadership, efficiency, transparency and accountability.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, asserted the importance of the Government leading by example:

“We’re already delivering on the Prime Minister’s promise to slash the Government’s own carbon emissions by 10% in our first year, but we need to go much further beyond that. Only by putting the low carbon agenda at the heart of everything that we do will we convince businesses and householders to do the same.”

Less carbon, more transparency

Shortly after taking office, the Prime Minister committed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from central Government of 10% in one year and to being more transparent on the performance of Government; 19 departments now report real time energy use in their headquarters’ buildings now on their websites.

Defra energy useEnergy use at Nobel House, Defra’s headquarters

New commitments

The Government is now announcing a new target to reduce its waste by 25 per cent by the end of this Parliament. amounting to over 74,000 tonnes of waste avoided, equivalent to the yearly waste of nearly 160,000 UK individuals. A new stretching commitment on greenhouse gas reduction will build on the current 10 per cent announced by the Prime Minister in May 2010.

Domestic business flights will be reduced by 20% by 2015 and water consumption will be reduced, with reporting of water use against best practice benchmarks. Paper use will be cut by 10% in 2011/12 and the feasibility of “closed loop” paper recycling is being actively explored. All redundant ICT equipment is re-used – within government, the public sector or wider society – or responsibly recycled.

the Government will also ensure that it buys more sustainable and efficient products and services, engaging with its suppliers to understand and reduce the impacts of its supply chain. The Government Buying Standards will be embedded in departmental and centralised procurement contracts, within the context of Government’s overarching priorities of value for money and streamlining procurement processes.

As part of its drive to increased transparency, the Government will improve and publish data on its supply chain impacts, initially carbon, followed by water and waste.

Leadership on sustainable development

The Government’s impact and ability to show leadership on the sustainability of its operations goes beyond the headline commitments.

Departments will be open and transparent on how they are addressing issues including climate change adaptation, biodiversity, the natural environment, and the wellbeing of staff. The issues are relevant across the operations of Government, for example in the promotion of biodiversity on the Government estate, the standards set for construction projects, and the procurement of food and catering services to reduce the environmental impacts of food and catering services and support a healthy balanced diet.

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