Saturday, March 10, 2007

Whitehall fails Environment

People everywhere are being encouraged to reduce their environmental impact, and quite right too. This year has been fairly easy, as the winter has been milder this year than last and I re insulated my hot water tank. As a result of this I have used two thirds of the gas that I used last year.

It appears government has not fared so well. Figures are not available for 2006/7 but they are for 2004/5 and 2005/6. They make some grim reading. (See The Sustainable Development Commission, and their report here)

Progress has been made in places. For example Whitehall is recycling 8% more. What is worrying is that it is at the same time sending more to landfill. So rather than working on reduce, reuse recycle they appear to be working on just the recycle bit.

What concerns me more though is that across Whitehall as a whole carbon emissions are up. That is not the fuel bill, but carbon emissions. For example in the Department for the Eradication of Farming and Rural Areas (DEFRA) run by David Milliband, carbon emissions are up by 10.2% since 1990, as opposed to a target of a reduction of 12.5% by 2010/11. This is in fact also an increase on the previous year. This is clearly the wrong direction of travel. Mind you the DTI seems to be doing quite well.

When there are now many ways of reducing carbon emissions like more efficient cars, traveling less, video conferencing and turning off the lights when no one is there.

One of the most shocking things I saw when Newsnight ran a report on this, was the number of offices in Whitehall where the lights were on well into the night when there was no one there. You have to wonder whether they were heated as well, and more importantly which nutter thinks it is OK to leave the lights on when there is no one there?

You can read the BBC report here, and more on the environment here.

1 comment:

Timothy said...

I see this more as (yet another example of) poor Whitehall management, because, in the end, nothing they do really affects them.

So, for example, I know of some government agencies that have cut their electricity usage (and consequently their energy bills and CO2 use) quite heavily over the past 5 years or so.

However, even here, they haven't done obvious things like put solar panels on the roof, because it "isn't financially viable", despite the fact that new-build has roofs designed to accommodate the damned things.

This is where the shortfall from Whitehall is more problematic. Take-up of grants for home installation of solar and wind was exhausted in a couple of hours at the beginning of this month.

This is about a policy failure, whereas the energy usage of Whitehall departments is merely a sideshow, an embarrassing, but less important management failure.

I could excuse a management failure if the policy was correct, but the other way round would be mere "greenwash". That New Labour, the spin-masters par excellence, can't even manage to get such simple things right is, however, a damning indictment of their lack of competence.