Government strengthens 2020 greenhouse gas target
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from across the UK public sector estate by 43 per cent by 2019/20 against 2009/10 levels, as he unveiled a range of clean growth and energy efficiency measures during a speech in Newcastle today.
Clark said working towards the more stretching target would save the public purse an estimated £340m, after the public sector last year saved £104m thanks to meeting a previous goal to reduce public sector emissions by a third by 2020 three years earlier than planned.
The greenhouse gas target includes emissions from energy, waste, water use, lighting, and estate management. The government said it would also be pushing other public sector bodies to publish guidance on how to drive down bills and cut carbon in their operations.
Clark hailed the cost savings already achieved through the public sector emissions reduction drive, adding that the new ambitious target would deliver further benefits.
"The potential savings from this can make a big difference across the wider public sector, with the NHS saving £2bn over the last decade; money that can be put straight back into frontline services where it's needed most," he said.
In addition, Clark announced several other measures to improve energy efficiency and drive down emissions more widely, including an £18m Industrial Heat Recovery Support programme to boost investment in low carbon heating technologies, which will open for applications in the Autumn.
The initiative is intended to encourage investment in heat recovery technologies, which harness heat for re-use that would otherwise go to waste in a bid to cut industry costs and boost efficiency.
Roz Bulleid, head of climate, energy and environment policy at manufacturers' organisation EEF, welcomed the programme. "Financial support from government should help overcome common barriers to adoption of these kinds of technologies, including information gaps and overly long payback periods," she said. "Hopefully the programme will bring forward projects that would not otherwise have happened and build confidence among users."
The Business Secretary also today announced a set of winners from two separate £10m innovation competitions, including low energy ventilation firm Free Running Buildings and a Hull University project to develop efficient, low carbon heating systems for public buildings in Yorkshire.
"Of the more than £11tr of investment expected in global power in the next three decades, 86 per cent is expected to be in low carbon," Clark added in his speech. "And by 2040, electric vehicles could make up over half of global car sales, compared to one per cent today. We will be working with businesses to highlight these opportunities during the first ever annual Green GB Week starting on the 15th October."
In addition, Clark confirmed further details for government's Construction Sector Deal, which was also announced today. The government said it would work with business to mobilise £420m of investment in 'smart construction' technologies as it seeks to deliver on Prime Minister Theresa May's pledge that the UK would halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, welcomed the Sector Deal as "an opportunity to transform the capabilities of the industry and deliver more sustainable places".
"It is encouraging that the 2025 target to halve emissions from the built environment sits at the heart of the sector deal," she added. "But targets and aspirations will only get us so far and it is vital that these low carbon objectives are swiftly integrated into the wider policy framework for building regulations and energy efficiency."
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