Carbon emissions

Changes to public sector emissions reporting needed according to National Audit Office

The National Audit Office (NAO) have released a report that outlines the struggles that many in the public sector have, when it comes to the measuring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

When measuring and reporting the levels of greenhouse gas emissions, there is a significant variation between public bodies, thanks to the guidance on offer.

Gareth Davies, head of the National Audit Office, said:

“The government has an ambition for the public sector to lead by example during the transition to net zero, but the measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by public bodies is inconsistent.

Public bodies face the challenge of navigating various greenhouse gas emissions reporting frameworks without a central source of government guidance. Government now needs to strengthen its leadership and establish a clear standard for the entire public sector to meet.”

For the last eleven years, government bodies and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have established targets to ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with the Greening Governments Commitments (GGCs) specifying that targets must be met by 2024-25. This is aligned with the government’s aim of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Public bodies have struggled navigating the guidance that has been on offer when it comes to how they go about measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, which is leading to not all bodies fully measuring them or measuring them wrong. In the report by the NAO it was found that in 2018-19, before reporting was suspended for the Covid-19 pandemic, only nine of the 21 government departments met all of Her Majesty’s Treasury’s reporting requirements in their report and accounts.

The NAO then went on to recommend that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Defra and HM Treasury ‘streamline greenhouse gas emissions measurement and reporting guidance.’ This would not only make it easier for public bodies to report their emissions in a more accurate manner, but also to help ensure that the targets are aligned to the government’s long-term decarbonisation goals.

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