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Carbon Trust gets government slap down over targets

emissions1.jpgMiaow! Saucer of milk for the Committee for Public Accounts!

The committee has released the findings of a report into how the Carbon Trust, the body set up in 2001 to help businesses cut their emissions, is doing and it’s a little on the catty side to say the least.

The committee isn’t overflowing with praise for the Carbon Trust’s work. For example, the report says:

The Carbon Trust appears likely to meet its 2010 target of an annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 4.4 million tonnes, but the target was not a particularly challenging one in the context of the Department’s overall target to reduce emissions by 118 million tonnes a year by 2010. As energy prices rise and public awareness of the need to tackle climate change increases, the Department should identify ways in which the Carbon Trust’s contribution could be greater.

The phrase “not outrageously successful” and ” gross inefficiency” also bandied about in the oral evidence given to the committee. Needless to say, such accusations were firmly slapped down by the Carbon Trust.

Meanwhile the committee noted that:

By the end of 2006–07 businesses and public sector organisations had implemented less than 40% of carbon dioxide savings identified by the Carbon Trust over the period 2003 to 2006.

While that might also seem like a bit of a diss, it’s actually not. Apparently, the question of cost stymied their introduction – for SMEs it was just about not having enough readies, while for bigger businesses, it’s about not seeing carbon cutting as a priority.

And if all that gloom weren’t enough, here’s more:

Market penetration by the Carbon Trust has remained relatively small compared to the number of businesses and public sector organisations operating within the United Kingdom.

Again, not all the Trust’s fault. Here’s why:

The Carbon Trust is required to comply with European Union rules on State Aid, which prohibit Member States from giving state resources to organisations where such resources have the potential to distort competition. As a consequence, initiatives to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon emissions could not be targeted at specific organisations within a sector, such as the larger businesses likely to generate bigger volumes of carbon dioxide. The Carbon Trust was not therefore able to target the two-thirds of businesses with energy bills of greater than £500,000 a year with which it had not previously worked and which collectively caused around one third of all United Kingdom business carbon dioxide emissions.

If you fancy some carbon related entertainment, you could do worse than read the oral evidence given to the committee. The PDF is here.

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