Natural England halves carbon dioxide emissions in four years

The government's wildlife and landscape conservation arm has made deep and rapid greenhouse gas cuts

The government’s wildlife and landscape conservation arm Natural England has halved its carbon dioxide emissions in four years, meeting the target set by its board in 2007.

The organisation’s calculated 2010 figure was 3,727 tonnes less than 2007’s, with PricewaterhouseCoopers verifying its methodology, data collection and reporting processes.

The largest cuts came from improving office energy efficiency and reducing the number of offices from 68 to 30 while ensuring there was no staff under-occupancy of floor space.

Increased working from home, training staff to drive cars more fuel-efficiently, video-conferencing, encouraging cycling and running National Nature Reserve vehicles on biodiesel derived from cooking oil also contributed.

Carbon reduction targets were set for individual work teams, staff suggestions were invited and some adopted, and 130 of the organisation’s 2,000 employees were identified as “sustainability champions”.

Natural England set itself the goal of hitting the target without any carbon offsetting, loss of customer service or transferring of any carbon burden onto suppliers. The programme also had to be cost-neutral within four years.

Chief executive Helen Philips said the target was “hugely ambitious… a 50% reduction is a remarkable achievement and shows that there is real scope for major change".

The body should be able to make further CO2 savings as it sheds 400 staff to cope with a 22% budget cut over the next four years. So far 329 staff (291 full time equivalent) have taken voluntary severance, its board was told in March.

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