Page last updated at 06:06 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 07:06 UK

Green failures 'may hit taxpayer'

Power station
A new scheme will penalise bodies performing badly on CO2 emissions

The failure of government departments to cut their carbon emissions could hit taxpayers, MPs have warned.

The Environmental Audit Committee said it was "unconvinced" that the government would reach its own target of reducing emissions by 12.5% by 2011.

It said departments could end up paying better performing private firms under the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme which is to be introduced next year.

The government said there was no proof that taxpayers would be affected.

'Leadership crucial'

The committee also warned that the government was slipping in the proportion of renewable energy it was using.

Insulation, solar panels and energy efficient combined heat and power boilers should be installed in government offices, the MPs said.

Taxpayers could end up paying a heavy price to buy carbon credits from the private sector
Tim Yeo
Chairman, Environmental Audit Committee

Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) chairman Tim Yeo said: "Leadership on these issues is crucial - the government can't have one prescription for the country and another for its own operations."

About 5,000 organisations will be required to buy CO2 "allowances" for each tonne of CO2 they emit under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The revenue raised from selling allowances is 'recycled' back to participants according to the progress they make in reducing emissions.

Those doing best will get more money back than they put in - and those doing worse will lose out.

'Little progress'

Mr Yeo said: "Unless the government gets its house in order, taxpayers could end up paying a heavy price to buy carbon credits from the private sector.

"In too many areas, like emissions of carbon dioxide from offices, it has made little or no progress and in others it is backsliding."

He also told BBC Five Live that "in parts of its own backyard the government seems to be getting browner, not greener".

He added: "If the government expects everybody else to be getting greener, it's important that it should lead from the front.

"It is missing its own target for cutting carbon emissions from the government's own offices, it's using less renewable energy, not more, and its recycling rate is falling, not rising."

The committee did praise the government for its successes, such as reducing emissions from its transport.

The best performing central department was the Treasury which cut emissions by 41.7%.

However, the worst was the Department for Children, Schools and Families at just 16.3%.

'Financial benefits'

Commenting on the report, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Robin Webster said the government must do much more.

"Switching to renewable sources of energy and cutting energy waste is crucial to cutting UK carbon emissions - but businesses and families are looking to the government to take the lead and show what can be done," he said.

A government spokesman said: "There is no evidence to suggest the taxpayer will incur additional tax burdens through departmental involvement on the Carbon Reduction Commitment programme.

"Departments continue to perform well against their sustainability targets and have the potential to perform well in the Carbon Reduction Commitment programme and achieve financial benefits from the scheme."

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