Carbon Trust can ‘do a lot better’ say MPs

The Carbon Trust has been criticised in a report released by the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday

The report evaluates the Trust’s performance in persuading private and public sector organisations to reduce greenhouse emissions, together with examining if establishing a company to deliver public services has been good value.

The Trust was established as a private government-owned company in 2001 and instructed to hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy. It received funding of £100 million in the last financial year.

It is expected to meet its target of reducing the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by 4.4 million tonnes by 2010. But this was described as “pretty small beer” by the parliamentary committee’s chairman Edward Leigh, particularly amid increasing energy costs and greater public awareness of climate change. It is a mere 3.7% of the national target of cutting emissions by 118 million tonnes by 2010. The body achieved a reduction of between 1.2 and 2.0 million tonnes of CO2 in the 2006-7 period.

The report calls on the Carbon Trust to “strengthen the evidence base" on the financial wisdom of cutting emissions. It also needs to persuade businesses to prioritise cuts when faced with competing and perhaps more financially rewarding options for spending. It also recommends greater use of the energy efficiency accreditation scheme, which recognises achievements in reducing energy use.

Further progress, the report contends, requires a greater number of organisations to be helped without an increase in costs. The Trust should prove that its advisory function cannot be achieved more economically by private sector services, with the report suggesting a franchising model for energy consultants.

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