The UK government has released the latest data on how it’s performing against the goals laid out in its Delivery Plan – Sustainable Procurement and Operations on the Government Estate - which has now been updated. Details of the achievements and plans are here.
It’s interesting because the targets and plans cover all government offices, which includes IT operations. The implications are (although never very clearly stated) that ICT is aiming for the same target. It’s unfortunate since we know that ICT can help the rest of the organisation reduce emissions, which doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration.
Anyway, looking at the CO2 emissions from offices, the targets were to reduce emissions by 12.5% by 2010/11 and 30% by 2020 relative to 1999/2000 levels. The government says it has achieved a 10% reduction against the 1999/2000 baseline this year and is on target to meet the 2010/11 target. Of the 22 central government departments reporting, half have already reached the target, one is on track, four have made progress but are not on track and six have made no reductions (or emissions have gone up). However, those government departments not on target represent less than a quarter of total government CO2 emissions.
So far so good. I’ve no doubt that the 12.5% can be achieved next year, but that’s the easy bit – the low-hanging fruit. Things are going to get tougher. Apart from the fact that its always going to be harder as you progress, there are a couple of other issues that departments (and IT operations) have to face:
• The original plan included a target of being carbon neutral by 2012. (I can’t find any reference to this in the updated plan, so maybe it’s been quietly dropped). Assuming it’s still in place, a huge amount of offsetting will be needed in 2012, which is going to cost a lot of money and hit budgets, ICT included.
• The conservative party has said that if it comes to power in the General Election (which will be in May at the latest) it will make government reduce emissions by 10% in the following year. This means that just after having achieved a 12.5% reduction another 10% may be required. Or will government departments slow down on emissions reduction actions pending a general election?