Sepa toils over GHG target

7th February 2014


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Philip Bailey

New figures reveal that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is struggling to achieve its 2020 target to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 42% against a 2006/07 baseline

Data in the regulator’s latest sustainability report show that, although overall GHG emissions in 2012/13 were 10.1% lower than in the baseline period, total carbon emissions increased by 2.4%. Sepa also reports that it failed to achieve its goal to reduce travel emissions in 2012/13, as they fell by 1.9%, less than half of its 5% target.

“We are still openly and honestly struggling with following our own GHG roadmap and keeping pace with our target of an overall reduction in our emissions of 42% by 2020,” admitted Sepa chief executive James Curran.

The agency says its internal GHG plan predicts that emissions will rise temporarily as it moves from old buildings into new ones. In one such move, a new integrated laboratory and office building in North Lanarkshire replaced two buildings in East Kilbride and a laboratory in Edinburgh.

“The overlap of buildings will likely cause a net rise of emissions for a couple of years particularly as temporary additional IT server space and cooling is factored in to ensure the continuity of records, day-to-day inspections and sampling workloads,” states the report.

“We recognise that achieving our sustainable goals will not be easy, particularly as we will have to accept increased emissions at times as we adopt new buildings and before we dispose of old buildings,” conceded Curran. Sepa expects its emissions to drop significantly from the end of 2015/16, as it completes the consolidation of its estate.

The Scottish regulator has been more successful in achieving its other environmental targets for 2012/13, covering waste, procurement and biodiversity. Successes include:

  • hitting the target to segregate metals, glass, plastics, paper and cardboard nine months earlier than the Scottish national target (end December 2013);
  • increasing the recycling rate from 69% in 2011/12 to 73% in 2012/13;
  • achieving a 5% increase in the number of sustainable goods and services procured in line with its sustainability criteria; and
  • meeting its interim target to review all biodiversity action plans at local offices.

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