The commission’s annual report, which last year castigated the government for lack of control over its fleet, said this year that although overall carbon emissions from transport had decreased by 11.9% from 2002/03, it remained ‘a cause for concern that 24% of departments are still unable to quantify their emissions’.
The target was to cut CO2 emissions by at least 10% by March 31, 2006, relative to the baseline year of 2002/03 through reducing business mileage and total fuel consumed, and improving the efficiency of vehicles.
Of the 21 departments investigated, six had hit their targets, with 15 failing and five of these unable to produce a figure for their carbon footprint.
Of the successful departments, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, with one of the biggest fleets in the government, had managed to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 10,000 tonnes (52.9%) since 2002, mainly thanks to its green fleet procurement strategy.
The report has published recommendations, including the creation of a government-wide sustainable travel policy as well as a high level review of travel arrangements, schemes and mileage rates.
In a move that reflects the government’s wider thinking on the use of ageing private cars for business, the Sustainable Development Commission has recommended a wide-ranging review on what it terms ‘the grey fleet’, claiming they were ‘generally the least sustainable mode of travel’.
Instead, it says private user schemes should be set up and more vehicles leased, suggesting it believes this to be the cheapest and most efficient way of greening the fleet.
The report goes further than concentrating solely on fleet and suggests different ways of working, including more use of video-conferencing. It notes that the Department for International Development has been using the technology extensively, with 66 units across its three UK offices, and had made large savings in emissions as a result.
It also recommended that air travel within the UK should be ‘vigorously challenged’.