Whitehall beefs up targets on renewables, CO2

New targets have been set to curb energy use in more than 50,000 Government buildings. The Government spends some £193 million on energy each year, and is responsible for about 0.5% of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions.

Departments must now aim to reduce absolute CO2 emissions by 12.5% by 2010/11, relative to their performance in 1999/2000. This follows a claimed reduction of 19% in the last decade, and will give an overall CO2 saving of some 29% from 1990. However, it appears that reductions in the size of the Government estate can contribute to delivery of the target.

Another new target requires Departments to increase their energy efficiency by 15% by 2010/11, expressed relative either to building floor area or total estate area.

The Government has been a leading purchaser of electricity from renewables, and met an interim target of buying 5% of its supply from green tariffs. Departments are now expected to source at least 10% of their power from renewables by 2008, although the Ministry of Defence has until 2010 in recognition of the "very large scale" of its estate. Some Departments already source more than 50% of their power from renewables (ENDS Report 347, p 9 ).

Crucially, Departments will not be allowed to count the use of bought-in renewable electricity towards their CO2 reduction targets, so as to avoid double-counting under the climate change programme.

Finally, Departments must source at least 15% of electricity from good quality combined heat and power (CHP) by 2010. The target, required by the sustainable Energy Act, has been criticised as unambitious - not least because it does not apply to major public bodies such as the National Health Service (ENDS Report 348, p 5 ).