The majority of Government departments and county councils have now set dramatic carbon reduction programmes that will define the shape of their fleets for years.
Thirty-one of the 39 departments and Government offices quizzed by Fleet News under Freedom of Information have set tough carbon reduction targets ranging from an annual 5% cut at the Forestry Commission to a 34% reduction by 2020 at several major Government departments including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standards Agency and the Serious Fraud Office.
All of the 38 county councils quizzed have introduced targets that will require their fleets to drastically cut their carbon emissions through reducing mileage and driving cleaner vehicles.
Cornwall County Council has the most ambitious target - it plans to cut emissions by 20% by 2015, 40% by 2020 and to become carbon neutral by 2025. It has already capped all new cars on its fleet to 140g/km.
Many Government departments are following suit and are now restricting new company cars to those with CO2 emissions at or below 130g/km.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which operates a fleet of 192 vehicles that emit some 4,796 tonnes of CO2 annually, has now capped its new cars at 130g/km in order to help it meet its target of a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2012 relative to 1999/2000 levels.
The Department for Transport, which has a fleet of 1,235 vehicles, has also capped all new cars at 130g/km. Last year its fleet pumped out over 7,680 tonnes of CO2.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which operates a significant fleet of 3,384 vehicles, of which 3,315 are cars, has been working for some time to drive down emissions. While it has capped all new cars at 140g/km, the average fleet car emission is already down to 130.33g/km and will be down to 130g/km by March 2011.
Despite this, the fleet still emitted 4,695 tonnes of CO2 last year.
As well as capping its cars, the DWP is reducing the miles its employees travel by car. Its travel policy encourages the use of email, telephone conversations, telekits and video-conferencing in preference to travel.
And where travel is essential, it requires its staff and their line managers to consider their travel options using the following hierarchy: walking, cycling, rail, fleet car, hire car and finally, as a last resort, their own vehicle.
The Ministry of Defence, which operates by far the largest of all the Government fleets at 10,079 vehicles, 7,291 of which are cars, has not yet introduce a CO2 cap.
Despite this, it has still managed to drive down average emissions per car to 129.9g/km. This is because it complies with the target set by Government following the 2007 White Paper, ‘Meeting the Energy Challenge’ that the average emissions of new cars procured for Government fleets between 2007 and 2010-11 should be 130g/km or less.
The MoD is also working to reduce fleet CO2 emissions by 15% by 2010/11 relative to 2005/2006 levels.
Even caps at 160g/km, which is more typical of those introduced by private fleets to bring them on the right side of the capital allowances tax rules, are bearing results in the public sector. For example, Ordnance Survey, which has a fleet of 360 vehicles – 358 of which are cars – has introduced a 160g/km cap. However, its average car emission is just 131g/km.
And the Wales Audit Office, which operates a 58-vehicle car fleet, has capped at 167g/km but has seen its cars’ average emissions drop to 142g/km down from 159g in 2008-09.
“We are currently considering introducing a cap of 140g/km, to be reduced by 5g/km a year, in respect of vehicles that we lease,” explained a WAO spokesman. “We have targets to reduce business miles by 5% a year. Currently, our fleet average CO2 emission is 142g/km, but our fleet management review proposes continuous reductions of 5g/km a year.
Many county councils also have caps in place: 13 now have formal caps and a further five are either considering introducing one or have best practice guides that include CO2 assessments when procuring new cars.
However, there is a wide variance in the level of emission caps in force by county councils. For example Buckinghamshire County Council has capped all new cars at 180g/km while North Yorkshire County Council has capped its new cars at 119g/km, which was have a dramatic effect on cutting its fleet emissions, which currently average 268g/km per car. The Council said the CO2 cap will help it meet its target of a 20% reduction by 2015 based on 2008/09 emissions.
It has also set a target to reduce business mileage by 10% this year. To achieve this, it launched its 'Small step, big difference' awareness campaign earlier this year, which promotes the use of video conference at seven sites. It has also introduced a green lease car salary sacrifice scheme as a voluntary benefit available to employees. This scheme offers environmentally friendly low emission cars (sub-120g/km CO2) on a 3-year lease basis.
“To date we have received over 200 requests for cars from this scheme and 187 cars have been ordered and most of these have been delivered,” explained a council spokesman. “The latest data indicates that average CO2 saved per ‘existing’ car is 48g/km based on limited data at present.”