Government 'set to miss its own emissions targets'

The Government is still producing 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and is not doing enough to meet its own targets on emissions, MPs will warn today.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said the Government had cut emissions from its offices – by far the biggest source – by 6.3 per cent on 1999 levels – just half of its target of a 12.5 per cent cut by 2010-11.

The report welcomed improvements in some areas, such as government road vehicles, where emissions have been cut by 10.3 per cent. However, road travel accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall emissions.

The report also claimed that under the new Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme, which begins in April 2010, the Government could have to pay money to private sector firms if it does not improve its performance.

The scheme will require about 5,000 organisations to buy "allowances" costing £12 a tonne for all the CO2 they emit each year, and be judged on how much they are doing to cut their emissions.

The money for purchasing allowances will go into a central pot and those cutting their emissions the most will get their original payment back plus a bonus, while those doing worst will be penalised by getting less back than they paid in.

"The consistent thread is that the Government has talked a good game but when it comes to the actual achievements, the picture is rather more mixed," said the EAC chairman Tim Yeo. "In too many areas, like emissions of carbon dioxide from offices, it [the Government] has made little or no progress and in others it is backsliding.

"What is clear is that, given there has only been a six per cent reduction over nine years, the chances of getting an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 would require a dramatic improvement.

"Our impression is that there is a very patchy approach across government. I have not seen any evidence that we have a change in the Government's thinking yet. We need a strong commitment at the top to drive through a process of change."

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