Fleet News

Whitehall fleets fail to hit green targets

FLEETS are challenging the Government to practise what it preaches as signs show that it has failed to meet its own targets on green motoring.

Four years ago the Government announced that by March 31, 2006, it would reduce its department fleets’ carbon emissions by 10%, make sure 10% of the fleets were alternatively fuelled and reduce single occupancy car commuting by 5%.

In December, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) raised serious concerns about the progress of Government departments towards those targets.

Four months on and with the deadline expired, it seems little has changed. Fleet News contacted a selection of departments to ask how they had fared and only one could give us an answer.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: ‘We haven’t started data collection yet. The SDC issues questionnaires to each department and they have not been issued yet. The latest data that we will have is in the last SDC report.’

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence simply referred enquiries back to the four-month-old SDC report.

The Department for Work and Pensions has an idea of how it is progressing towards the targets, but has only managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 6.5% instead of 10%.

It could not say how effective efforts at reducing single occupancy car commuting had been. However, it did confirm that 17% of its fleet is alternatively fuelled.

Fleet experts have expressed disappointment at the findings.

Chris Chandler, a director of fleet consultancy company Fleet Audits, said: ‘In promoting environmentally-friendly transport and looking to fleets to assist it in that, the Government has to lead the charge. To keep missing targets just isn’t good enough.’

A spokesman for fleet managers’ association Acfo said: ‘The Government still fails to take even the most basic steps of measuring so it can monitor and even where it has it is not having the kind of success that it is impressing on other fleet operators.

‘If the targets are unreachable, then it needs to be honest and say they are unreachable, and take them off everybody. If they are reachable, then the Government needs to be an exemplar of best practice.’

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Tony Bosworth was also critical.

He said: ‘If the Government wants the public to tackle climate change by buying greener cars and changing how they travel, it should be able to put its own house in order first.

‘The signs are that performance against its own targets to do this will be as inadequate as the climate strategy it released last week.’

Hazel Dempster, spokeswoman for the Sustainable Development Commission, said the progress towards the targets was not constantly monitored, but would be reviewed again at the end of the year.

She said: ‘We’ll go through the information gathering process later this year and report on it afterwards.’

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