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As climate change continues to shoot up the national agenda, it is vital that public sector bodies take steps to implement good carbon management at every level of their organisation.

Public sector organisations currently account for approximately four per cent of the UK's overall carbon dioxide emissions - equivalent to around 21 million tonnes - so the need for local authorities, NHS Trusts, and higher education institutions to take action to reduce their energy bills and cut their carbon footprints has never been greater.

Action, innovation and investment within the public sector will be crucial if the UK is to meet its stretching emissions reductions commitments. However, implementing proper carbon management can reap huge dividends for the public sector in terms of reducing energy bills, cutting carbon emissions and strengthening an organisation's reputation.

It also enables public sector organisations to set a good example for local residents and businesses, encouraging them to follow their lead by prioritising emissions reduction.

The Carbon Trust's work with the public sector shows that many organisations are already working hard to cut their carbon footprint but need extra support and strategic advice. Since our inception in 2001, we have helped 340 UK public sector organisations save £120 million in energy costs and cut carbon emissions by over one million tonnes.

Our bespoke public sector Carbon Management programmes address this need by helping organisations overcome the obstacles that can hinder better carbon management, such as lack of resource and finance.

Launched in 2003, the Local Authority Carbon Management (LACM) Programme was set up to provide local authorities with practical advice on developing good carbon management practice. Its main objective is to deliver improved carbon management to reduce emissions under the direct control of the local authority, such as buildings, vehicle fleets, street lighting and landfill sites.

The programme also offers practical support to organisations by helping them identify carbon saving opportunities, providing tools to analyse energy consumption, and delivering workshop support for staff and senior managers to enable them to ‘embed' carbon management into the day-to-day business of the council. The programme is also supported by a bespoke toolkit: a web-based manual that gives detailed guidance on the programme's process, technical advice and examples of best practice.

The programme facilitates the sharing of best practice between local authorities, enabling participants to learn from each other's experience, thereby optimising results.

Following the launch of the sixth phase earlier this month, the Carbon Trust is now working with 207 of the UK's 468 local authorities on the programme. To date, the Carbon Trust has worked with participating councils to identify annual savings of more than £43 million and 865,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide for the sites involved - equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of approximately 80,000 UK consumers. Many of the councils involved have pledged to cut their carbon emissions by 25 per cent.

Improving carbon management not only makes good environmental sense but also generates significant financial benefits. This is particularly important for local authorities, given they have a responsibility to deliver the best value for local tax payers' money.

As climate change becomes more of a mainstream consumer issue, another incentive to develop good sustainability policies is the potential for local authorities to improve their reputation, both in the local community and among their peers.

Cutting carbon emissions, as one of the main contributors to climate change should, therefore, be a key priority for local authorities. Our work on the LACM programme has shown that more and more local authorities are beginning to realise that they can play a crucial role in climate change and by doing so save thousands of pounds off their energy bill, which can be re-invested into the local community. We would urge other councils to follow their example.

Sharing knowledge and experiences from all area of public sector is an effective way to move this programme forward. I invite you all to use this opportunity to communicate your examples of best practice whether you are involved with the LACM or not. I look forward to hearing your comments.....

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Written by Richard Rugg   
Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 09:51


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