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Government beats carbon emissions reduction targets for public estate

Published May 4, 2023

Government beats carbon emissions reduction targets for public estate

The government reduced has carbon emissions from its properties by 57% in 2021.

The latest figures mean the government has done better than its target, which was for a 43% reduction compared to a baseline set in 2009 – 2010. The reductions in energy consumption saved the government an estimated £182 million in 2020-21.

The figures published in the government’s ‘State of the Estate Report’, show that 38% of the reduction in emissions was due to the improved management of the estate and a further 19% was due to the decarbonisation of the national grid.

Jeremy Nicholson, Alfa Energy corporate affairs officer, commented: “At a time when the private sector is making efforts to comply with government climate regulations in order to meet the UK’s net zero ambitions, it’s good to see public sector is also setting an example and moving in the right direction.”

Public sector buildings account for around 9% of carbon emissions from buildings in the UK. The built environment is estimated to be responsible for around 40% of global carbon emissions. 

Reducing emissions is a significant focus for the government property estate organisations. Nationally, the ambition is to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990s levels.  For public buildings, the commitment is to achieve a 50% emission reduction by 2032, against 2017 baselines.

To reduce emissions, government departments are switching to renewable energy for government assets and vehicles, generating renewable energy themselves, analysing the efficiency of their assets to make buildings more energy efficient. The government is also adopting more sustainable methods of construction and training staff in carbon literacy.

The report also shows the government estate reduced water consumption by 10% in 2021-22 compared to a 2017-18 baseline. An estimated £7.2 million savings were achieved through reduced water consumption in 2021-22 compared to 2017-18.