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Carbon Emissions

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when his Office began to measure its carbon emissions; what the volume of those emissions was in the last period for which figures are available; when his Office started to offset those emissions; what the cost is expected to be of offsetting his Office’s emissions; and if he will make a statement. (116383)

The Government set a target in the NI Sustainable Development Strategy of carbon neutrality for the Government estate by 2015.

At the end of November I announced the publication of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Implementation Plan, “A Positive Step”. A copy can be downloaded at:

The plan sets out the key actions for achieving carbon neutrality including: reducing the size of the Government estate through the Workplace 2010 Project; reductions in carbon emissions through investment in renewable energy sources, again through the Workplace 2010 Project; increased use of electricity generated from green sources; and investing in energy efficiency through the Central Energy Efficiency Fund.

The NIO occupies a number of buildings on agreement from the Department of Finance and Personnel. We will be working with colleagues in DFP and across the Northern Ireland Departments to ensure we play our part in achieving this target. In addition we are currently working on the installation of biomass heating and solar panels at Hillsborough Castle, the only building we occupy as owners.

The NIO is also participating in the DEFRA run Government Carbon Offsetting Fund. All central Government ministerial and official air travel is being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.