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Government Carbon Emissions

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 7 July 2011

The Prime Minister announced on 14 May 2010 that this would be the greenest Government ever and that central Government would lead by example, by reducing their emissions by 10% within 12 months. I am pleased to announce that the Government have achieved that target, reducing emissions by 13.8%— I think I am entitled to round that up to 14%—using weather-corrected data. Never before have central Government achieved such a reduction in such a short space of time.

As the Government have done so well and surpassed their 10% target, may I encourage the Secretary of State to be ambitious when setting central Government’s next carbon reduction goals? Will he work with business and the rest of the public sector to ensure that they achieve the same scale of reductions?

I am very pleased to confirm that the Prime Minister has announced a new five-year carbon reduction target of 25%, to ensure that we continue to drive down carbon and energy use in the Government. By focusing attention on the issue among decision makers, we can help to move the whole country along. We need to practise what we preach, and we will.

Can the Secretary of State please tell the House what the exact level of carbon emissions from the parliamentary estate was previously, so that we can be absolutely clear what it is now, after the 13.8% reduction, or have the figures been estimated and banded?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would be shocked if I attempted to take responsibility for the parliamentary estate, which is clearly up to the House of Commons. This issue is strictly about central Government, not the parliamentary estate, but I would urge Mr Speaker, using all his great influence, to ensure that the parliamentary estate is performing just as well as central Government.

I warmly congratulate the Government on more than achieving their target, which stands in stark contrast with previous Governments. None the less, at a glance around the governmental estate—and the parliamentary estate, too—we see lights burning all night long, with no use of energy-efficient lighting. We also see the ambient temperature of Ministry of Defence buildings, such as the one in my constituency near Corsham, at 25°, which means that civil servants have to sit with their jackets off, because otherwise it would be too warm. Surely we should get our lights off at night and get the temperature down, so that people feel cold in the office and put sweaters on.

I hesitate to say this, but I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. We have set an ambitious target and there is more work to do. Whether that means getting people to put on woolly jumpers or getting them to turn the lights off, we will do it, and we shall continue our efforts.