Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

30.04.18

Energy efficiency: not just a matter of more money

Source: PSE April/May 2018

David Reilly, head of cities & regions at the Carbon Trust, reports on the findings from this year’s Low Carbon Cities Conference.

Each year, in advance of the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Cities Conference, we reach out to delegates asking them about their current progress on sustainability, the commitments they have made, and the challenges they are facing. Thanks to over 100 responses from this year’s event, we have a very useful snapshot of the state of public sector sustainability in the UK today.

One of the most important findings is that we are seeing a significant climate leadership gap. Although 90% of respondents believe that the public sector will need to play a very important role in meeting international ambitions on climate change, just a quarter of their organisations have actually committed to take action and align themselves with the Paris Agreement.

Of the many barriers to action we explored, the most commonly cited was a perceived lack of available budget or finance. Organisations claim that they are unable to find the money to pay for beneficial projects that will cut carbon emissions. What this tells us is not that there isn’t enough money – it’s that many people are unaware of where to look or how to get their hands on it. There are plenty of options out there.

For example, more than 1,800 public sector bodies across the UK have already made use of the interest-free loans and financing through Salix Finance, which can pay for the installation of over 120 types of technology. Higher Education institutions have also accessed over £90m since HEFCE set up its Revolving Green Fund. And in England and Wales, 139 local authorities have already received subsidised project development support from the Heat Networks Delivery Unit at BEIS, and this year will see the launch of the government’s £320m Heat Networks Investment Project.

This money is made available because investments into cutting carbon emissions often make good business sense – borrowing to save on overheads frees up much-needed budget to pay for frontline services.

Even where grants or interest-free finance are not available, the public sector can still borrow at very attractive rates. There is also a huge amount of interest in green bonds, with city issuances becoming increasingly common and institutional investors eager for long-term, secure, sustainable returns. And the market for energy performance contracts is really starting to take off in the UK.

Of course, there is still good progress being made in taking action, even despite challenges. Over half the delegates we surveyed claimed that their organisation has improved performance on climate change and environmental sustainability when compared to the previous year.

The problem seems to be one of ambition and scale. It’s still only two-thirds of respondents that claim that their organisation has a proper plan in place to take action on the environment. There is also an apparent skills gap, with 46% stating that having stronger internal expertise would help them take more effective action.

There appears to be an expectation that central government should do more of the heavy lifting, with 68% calling for stronger leadership from Whitehall and the devolved administrations. And while this is always very welcome, stronger leadership needs to go both ways.

Speaking at our Low Carbon Cities Conference, the energy and clean growth minister, Claire Perry, provided a different perspective. She insisted that central government will rely on local leadership, which will need to play a key delivery role in implementing the government’s Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy.

As she – quite correctly – pointed out, public sector leaders know their areas as well as anyone. They know the local building stock, transport needs, and where clusters of energy demand exist. They know the skills that can be found within local businesses, colleges and universities to help drive low-carbon economic development. They know what will and will not work in their areas.

Getting the money is just one element in transitioning the UK to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. It is important, but equally as important is going to be leaders within public sector organisations stepping up, taking responsibility and making things happen. Bold action will help to create a platform for a secure, sustainable, and successful future for Britain.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
W: www.carbontrust.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Council to spend £4m investigating senior officers who gave themselves 20% wage rise during pay freeze

14/12/2018Council to spend £4m investigating senior officers who gave themselves 20% wage rise during pay freeze

A council has agreed to allocate nearly an extra £250,000 to an investigation looking into alleged pay rises given to senior officers. ... more >
Government commissioner allows Wakefield Council to retain full control of services

14/12/2018Government commissioner allows Wakefield Council to retain full control of services

Almost four months after Ofsted inspectors identified “serious and widespread failures” across Wakefield’s children’s ser... more >
Fife Council scraps controversial P1 assessments despite harsh government opposition

14/12/2018Fife Council scraps controversial P1 assessments despite harsh government opposition

Fife Council has announced that it will be scrapping the controversial standardised P1 assessments at the end of the current academic year. ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Local government finance settlement: short-term needs met with 2.4% boost

13/12/2018Local government finance settlement: short-term needs met with 2.4% boost

The annual local government finance settlement shows that the government has recognised short-term pressures facing local government — but it is yet to solve medium to long-term financial d... more >
Local government finance settlement delayed by Brexit

05/12/2018Local government finance settlement delayed by Brexit

The announcement of the local government funding settlement has been delayed as Parliament looks to grapple with Brexit. In a statement released this afternoon, communities secretary Ja... more >

the raven's daily blog

Blog: 5 minutes with Gary Wallis-Clarke, member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills Group

12/12/2018Blog: 5 minutes with Gary Wallis-Clarke, member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills Group

Ahead of the upcoming networking extravaganza EvoNorth, we caught up with Gary Wallis-Clarke, a member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills group, executive headteacher at West Jesmond Primary school, and its national leader of education. In our interview, Gary reveals what the Northern Powerhouse means to him and explains... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

The digital buying community is live

12/11/2018The digital buying community is live

Many of the requirements from buyers posted on the Digital Marketplace were either non-compliant or poorly worded, which resulted in challenges f... more >
A force to be reckoned with

12/11/2018A force to be reckoned with

The South Bank plan, which refers to a number of investments and proposed activities across a massive plot of land south of the River Aire, is on... more >
Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

12/11/2018Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

As councils across England struggle with their finances in the face of massive cuts from central government, Simon Edwards, director of the Count... more >
A two-speed England

05/11/2018A two-speed England

Central government needs to change its approach to local transport planning and investment, including by consolidating funding and maximising dev... more >

interviews

New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

26/09/2018Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has outlined her priorities for dealing with soaring demand of children’s services and social ... more >
Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

05/09/2018Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

Nottinghamshire County Council is considering proposals to scrap its current two-tier structure for a new unitary system in order to save on... more >

public sector focus

View all News