Imagine your name was the X in this sentence: “Despite encouraging initiatives, X is still not on course to meet targets and urgently needs to raise its game”. You’d feel pretty bad wouldn’t you? You might stare at your shoes for a bit and kick the wall.
The X in that sentence, luckily enough, wasn’t you: it was government. Whitehall has got slapped down by the Sustainable Development Commission, which is calling on the government to get on with taking “urgent and radical action”.
It’s not all bad news. According to the Commission:
Recycling targets are well on their way to being met, and targets for electricity from renewable sources have been exceeded.
Happy face! But wait a minute… there’s the sad face…
However, while overall carbon emissions from offices have fallen by 4% since 1999, nearly two thirds of departments are still not on track to meet the target of reducing carbon emissions from offices by 12.5% by 2010.
Performance against other targets shows little progress, with procurement standards introduced as ‘Quick Wins’ widely going unobserved, despite being mandatory. There was also little progress towards reducing water consumption or sourcing electricity from combined heat and power. In other cases, performance is actually worse than last year, with carbon emissions from road vehicles up across government.
The Commission again found that the poor quality of data provided by departments in many cases made it difficult to arrive at a true picture.
But back to happy face again: the Commission is “encouraged” by what the government has to say about the whole thing and has a delivery plan in the offing. Phew.
As far as I can tell, as an observer not an expert, it would appear that governments (both UK and non-UK) set targets by thinking about what would play best as a sound bite but without any meaningful attempt to work out whether they will be easily achievable or even achievable at all.
They do this safe in the knowledge that by the time they have missed the target they won’t be in office at which point, as the previous comment says, the fines which come in will fall upon the tax payer and not the idiot who made the unachievable promise.
Targets. Gotta love ’em. Keep lots of folk in business setting them, assessing them and then explaining why they don’t matter or rejigging the rules for another stab. Plus guys like us passing comment.
One thing… ‘wasn’t you: it was government.’
Like many, I’d like to divorce me from t’other. But sadly, once such as the EU fines kick in for missing them I rather suspect it will be us who fork out.
Sad face again:(
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