The Government has in place targets for reducing its own CO2 emissions by 10% from 2002/03 levels by March 31, 2006. Additionally, all departments are required to make sure that 10% of their fleets are alternatively-fuelled, and they should have reduced single occupancy car commuting by 5%.
But a report this month from the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) entitled ‘Leading By Example? Not Exactly...’ castigates the Government for failing to meet those targets. The report said eight departments had already met the March deadline for alternatively-fuelled cars. But two-thirds had failed to report accurately on the total amount of fuel consumed last year, and data on CO2 emission reduction was ‘sometimes poor’.
The Ministry of Defence was singled out for failing to provide data on fuel consumed. The report said the MoD ‘has a long way to go on ensuring 10% of its massive fleet of cars (8,924) are alternatively-fuelled’.
There were at least good reports for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which already has 85% of its 40 cars powered alternatively. The Department for Work and Pensions has 20% of its 2,704-strong fleet running on alternative fuel.
But the SDC expressed surprise over the failure of many departments to collect carbon emission data.
It said: ‘A good approximation of carbon emissions can be obtained from fuel purchase and use data and we would expect departments to be keeping records of their fuel expenditure as a part of their everyday financial management. There is no obvious reason why this information should be so patchy across Government.’
Single person car occupancy has not gone down since 2002/03, staying at 72%. Most departments failed to provide complete data, including the Department for Transport, which set out the targets in the first place.
Fleet NewsNet spoke to a number of Government departments. Some did not know who looked after their cars, and of the fleet managers, several did not appear to know about the targets.
When asked for details of vehicles and their uses, one said: ‘Our department is currently undergoing a fundamental review of all our fleet functions. If you rang a few months ago I could have told you, but right now we’re looking at a total change.’
We were advised to call back in six months – after the deadline has expired.
One Government agency said it had a considerable percentage of its fleet powered by LPG or electricity, but was unaware of any targets. Its fleet manager said: ‘I don’t think we’re working to any percentage – we use alternative fuels wherever we can.’
Stewart Whyte, director of fleet operators’ association ACFO, said he was ‘surprised and disgusted’ at the findings. He felt that input from the private sector was needed to turn the ailing departments around.
Whyte said: ‘The Government needs to appoint somebody like me, as green fleet commissar, with teeth and power and instruction and budget and targets. We stand ready, willing and able, there’s no shortage of people to do it. It’s high time that Government stopped preaching to the private sector about getting its house in order.’