The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

The Coalition are using a loophole to help achieve their 10:10 carbon pledge. The Sustainable Development Commission warned about the ruse before being scrapped.

Entering office, David Cameron used a visit to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to announce that one of his flagship green policies would be to cut the government’s own emissions of carbon pollution by 10 per cent in their first twelve months in office.

This was in response to the high profile 10:10 campaign, which has been promoted by The Guardian. The campaign calls on individuals, businesses and governmental organisations to make 10 per cent cuts in 2010 and has signed up over 65,000 people, 2,610 businesses and 3,100 organisations and educational institutions.

The movement includes Royal Mail, Lovebox music festival, Tottenham Hotspur football club, and the Tate Modern as well as celebrities such as Delia Smith, Colin Firth and Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox.

In 2009, with the government under pressure to reduce its own emissions in exactly this way, the Sustainable Development Commission (since axed by the coalition) warned about a loophole that would allow the government to claim carbon reductions, which weren’t actually real. The SDC advised:

“There are ways that Government could cut its own reported carbon emissions considerably, by – shifting emissions elsewhere rather than genuinely reducing them. For example, it could contract out activities such as ICT, reprographics and some Government services. This would not help to tackle climate change. The SDC urges the Government to be open and transparent about the ways in which carbon can be reduced, to allow others to learn from their experience.”

In a parliamentary answer the Energy Minister, Greg Barker, confirmed the government would use this loophole. The Labour MP Gregg McClymont asked ‘whether the notional reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the (a) outsourcing of Government services and (b) sale of Government buildings will be included in the target for a 10 per cent year-on-year reduction in the level of carbon dioxide emissions from the central government estate.

Barker confirmed they would be included – but would not be the sole basis of the planned 10:10 reduction. He replied:

While outsourcing and rationalisation of the Government estate can and will deliver towards the 10% savings, the ministerial working group established to ensure the delivery of this emissions target has indicated that it is not acceptable to deliver the savings on the basis of these alone.”

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22 Responses to “The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge”

  1. John Ruddy

    Tory plan-outsource all public sector and claim to be zero-carbon RT @leftfootfwd: Loophole in coalition carbon pledge

  2. Aisha Gani

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  3. Labour Environment

    A useful insight into a government loophole on actually meeting its 10:10 carbon pledge by Joss Garman over on…

  4. Guy Shrubsole

    Outsourcing emissions? The govt's loophole in its 10:10 pledge: #1010

  5. Power Shift

    RT @guyshrubsole: Outsourcing emissions? The govt's loophole in its 10:10 pledge: #1010

  6. Hitchin England

    The loophole in the coalitions 10:10 carbon pledge via @leftfootfwd

  7. Joss Garman

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  8. Matthew Sinclair

    Interesting post and a good point.

    But suppose you applied this logic to unilateral action on climate change more broadly. Wouldn’t that lead to the conclusion that emissions trading, carbon taxes and things like that will have a similar effect pushing emissions out of the country – the same way that an imperative to cut emissions is pushing them out of the sector in this case. Dieter Helm made this point well:

    “This international dimension raises perhaps the most important aspect of the 20 per cent overall target: it is based on production of carbon within the EU, and not on consumption. Thus the EU can achieve its targets if it switches carbon production that would have taken place within the EU to overseas, and then imports back the goods and services which would have caused the emissions internally.”

    Another side of this debate is the Kaya Identity:

    Emissions = Population x GDP per capita x Energy/$GDP x Emissions/Energy

    You could recast that for the public sector:

    Emissions = Spending (within the public sector) x Energy/Spending x Emissions/Energy

    Not just outsourcing will help them meet the target. Spending cuts will too!

  9. Anon E Mouse

    Joss Garman – Do you never stop? How do you earn your living?

    The Sustainable Development Commission was rightly scrapped and hopefully this bonfire of the QUANGO’s will continue.

    Your drooling support for that last useless government means you won’t even acknowledge that by scrapping the third runway at Heathrow in one go more was done for the environment in that one action than thirteen years of talk and bluster by Labour.

    This is a pointless article.

  10. Lianne

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  11. RupertRead

    Important piece by my mate @JossGarman on the greenwash con-artists in govt:…

  12. Jonathan da Silva

    Sounds like the Blair Brown plan outsource all production to China and then complain they pollute – without the balance of payments deficit issues one hopes.

  13. Joss Garman

    Hi Matt (and Jonathan da Silva)

    Dieter is right that this is precisely what carbon trading has allowed industrialised nations to do. That’s why the last government used to have claimed to have reduced emissions when in fact they’d risen in real terms. They were simply being attributed to China and other places instead. In fact, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research estimated about a quarter of China’s emissions can be attributed to the manufacuring of goods for consumers in OECD countries. This only underlines why countries like the UK should make as many of the reductions as they can at home, to benefit from the new jobs and industries, to bring down energy bills in the longer term, and to improve the UK’s competitiveness and efficiency in the global economy, whilst simultaneously bringing down emissions substantially. This is especially true given the importance of the clean energy industry going forward.

    @ AnonEMouse – Of course, I’m delighted that the coalition kept their promise to scrap the third runway and the new runways at Gatwick and Stansted. I don’t see how this should preclude me critiquing their other energy and climate policies. Please point me to an example of where I ‘drooled over’ the last government. In fact, I never voted for them and was repeatedly arrested protesting against them.

  14. Kaveh Azarhoosh

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  15. Tracy Carty

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  16. Andrew Saffrey

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge #1010 #green #sustainability #environment

  17. Rupert Read

    Yes, Joss is right, and so (for once!) is Matt: the ETS is badly-flawed. It allows mass carbon-offsetting.
    We need a more radical approach, based on real reductions in emissions. See the work of Larry Lohman, at , for the way we should be heading.

  18. PosiSure

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  19. Dick Mandrake

    RT @leftfootfwd: The loophole in the coalition’s 10:10 carbon pledge

  20. Hannah Nicklin » Imagine

    […] stop the Coalition government side-stepping their promises on climate change action, the sooner and better we act, the lower the human and monetary cost we’re hit […]

  21. Hannah Nicklin

    @alexwilcock Fucking Greenwash,no other words for it,broken promises already:

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