The Sustainable development in government report, on performance in 2006/07, paints a picture of patchy performance by government departments.
On the positive side, the commission says that recycling targets are well on their way to being met – 38.5% of waste from the government estate was recycled in 2006/07, almost meeting the 2010 target of 40%. And the target to buy electricity from renewable sources of 10% by 2008 was exceeded with 28.3% achieved in 2006/07.
But carbon emissions from vehicles increased by 1.5% compared to 2005/06 – showing no progress towards meeting the target of a 15% cut by 2010/11 – an area of “serious concern”, the SDC says.
And nearly two-thirds of departments were not on track to meet their office carbon emissions reduction target of 12.5% by 2010/11. Emissions in 2006/07 were just 4% down on a 1999/2000 baseline.
Energy efficiency per square metre improved by 21.7% from the same baseline, higher than the target of 15% by 2010, but only because of improvements made by the Ministry of Defence. Energy efficiency across the rest of the government estate actually worsened by 3.3%.
The report suggests that senior civil servants should have sustainability targets incorporated into their personal performance objectives to drive change.
The commission also says departments must agree a common policy to reduce transport emissions by encouraging more sustainable transport options and alternatives to travel. A target to cut emissions from air travel must also be developed.
A government response to the report accepts all of the recommendations. It is to set up a new centre of expertise for sustainable procurement within the Office of Government Commerce to coordinate performance management.