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18.11.13

Carbon Trust praises UK public sector for action on climate change

The managing director of programmes at the Carbon Trust, Richard Rugg, has told a global audience that the UK’s public sector “is an international leader on climate change”.

Speaking after a trip to Mexico where he told an audience of legislators and local government representatives about the success of the sector, he said: “There are many countries around the world that want to learn about what the UK is doing about climate change and how it is doing it.”

Rugg, who has written for Public Sector Executive, continued: “Action has been driven by government. The UK was the first nation in the world to set legally binding targets for reducing carbon emissions, and the first to introduce mandatory greenhouse gas reporting for businesses.

“Businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity. In 2010/11 the UK exported low carbon and environmental goods and services to 52 countries around the world, totalling £11.2bn. And according to the CBI over a third of the UK’s economic growth in 2011/12 was likely to have come from green business.

“Yet when it comes to setting an example on how to take local action on carbon emissions, then the UK public sector really stands out amongst the world’s highest achievers. In forward thinking local authorities, hospitals, universities and colleges across the country carbon management plans are being progressed that collectively are having a huge impact. Between 1990 and 2011 UK public sector emissions decreased by 46%.”

The Carbon Trust has helped UK public bodies identify total lifetime carbon and cost savings of 94 million tonnes of CO2 and £2.8bn, with over 17.5 million tonnes and £700m net saved to date despite “exceptionally challenging economic times”, as Rugg put it.

He specifically praised Glasgow City Council’s “ambitious” planning policies aimed at encouraging energy efficiency design, renewable energy generation and replacing the more carbon-intensive parts of its estate.

He added: “The willingness of the public sector to take collaborative action has been hugely impressive, with the impetus often coming from the grassroots rather than top-down from government. For example more than 50 councils have signed up to the Local Government Association’s Climate Local Commitment, and in Scotland all 32 Local Authorities have signed up to the equivalent, Scotland’s Climate Change Declaration. The Local Government Association also signed a memorandum of understanding with DECC, recognising the role of local authorities in carbon reduction and helping set a framework for sharing information on greenhouse gas emissions.”

For more from Rugg, click here.

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