Government sounds carbon action bell

17th March 2011


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  • Mitigation ,
  • Central government ,
  • Energy



Whitehall departments will have to take firm actions and meet strict deadlines to reduce their emissions under a carbon action plan (CAP) unveiled by the government.

The CAP means that government departments will be held accountable for the delivery of their carbon-reduction policies and that all policy initiatives will be tested for their impact on emissions.

“This carbon plan sets out a vision of a changed Britain, powered by cleaner energy used more efficiently in our homes and businesses, with more secure energy supplies and more stable energy prices,” say deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne in their foreword to the draft plan.

“But it does more than that. It shows exactly how we will deliver that vision and play our part in the global effort to tackle climate change and build a green economy through specific, practical action across government, month-by-month and department-by-department.’’

The actions (see below for examples) focus mainly on three areas: electricity generation, heating homes and businesses, and decarbonising road transport. These are the areas where the greatest and most urgent change is needed, says the plan. It also sets out how the UK will work in the European Union and with other countries to promote ambitious action on climate change. There are also obligations on the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

A carbon budget management framework has been put in place to hold departments to account for their actions. It involves cross-departmental discussions on the measures to meet carbon budgets, and regular departmental monitoring and reporting against actions and indicators of progress.

The draft CAP is intended to set out and seek input into the format and content of the final plan, which will be published in October 2011 and take into account the fourth carbon budget covering the period 2023–27. The government says that it will refresh the CAP every year and post quarterly progress reports on the No.10 website. Interested parties have until 31 July to comment on the draft plan.

Specificactions and deadlines

There are 50 specificactions listed in the CAP across nine government departments. DECC and Defra are each responsible for 12 actions, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) each have six, the Treasury (HMT) four and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) three.

Some of the key actions and deadlines include:

  • DECC – contract for the first UK carbon capture and storage demonstration plant by the end of 2011 and to identify further demonstration projects by May 2012.
  • Defra/DECC/BIS – launch of a roadmap to a green economy, including by using insights from behavioural science, in April 2011.
  • HMT – creation of a floor in the carbon price by April 2011.
  • BIS – Green Investment Bank operational by September 2012.
  • Defra – agree waste goals for 2014–20 and set the path towards “zero waste” by May 2011.
  • DfT – development of a nationwide strategy to promote the installation of electric-vehicle infrastructure by June 2011.
  • DECC/CLG – Display energy certificates extended to commercial buildings by October 2012.


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