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Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

17. What measures he plans to use to assess progress towards meeting the Government’s target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. (144200)

DEFRA publishes annual statistics on UK carbon dioxide emissions, as well as verified emissions data and surrendered allowances under the EU emissions trading scheme. That information allows us to measure progress towards our emissions reduction targets.

The national audit has shown that the Government’s own buildings and refurbishment programmes have achieved only 9 per cent. of their target. Why is that?

It is clear that we. as a Government. need to do better in respect of the Government office estate. That is one of the reasons why in July last year we announced new sustainable operation targets for the Government estate, and why we have said that we want the Government Office estate to be carbon-neutral by 2012. To be honest, I think our performance to date has been a little disappointing. Although it has been good in places, it has been patchy, and the National Audit Office recognised that. We need to work harder at that, right across Government.

Would it not assist the Government in trying to reach their targets if the Government, Parliament, the Mayor of London and the Greater London authority were to switch off the lights in their buildings during the night?

There are a number of issues around that point, but, broadly, the answer is yes. In some cases, lights need to be on at night for cleaning purposes, but the Government have been considering how cleaning can be undertaken in daylight hours. We can do more on optimising systems to switch off lights when buildings are not being used, and a programme of work has been implemented across Government.