Government vendors cut carbon emissions

14 January 2011
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14 January 2011 | Lindsay Clark

Plans to reduce carbon emissions and manage climate change need to be built into all of the UK government’s supplier relationships, a report has said.

The Carbon Disclosure Project’s PublicProcurement Report revealed 262 firms supplying the public sector have managed to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by a combined total of 32 million tones a year, equivalent to saving £221 million. One vendor, the construction firm Mansell, installed video conferencing technology in its offices to reduce business travel. The firm estimates this saved 16.28 tonnes of CO2 and £42,600 over five months.

Despite the success in reducing emissions, the report also revealed areas for concern. While 57 per cent of suppliers reported having a carbon mitigation plan, only 12 per cent have strategy to adapt to a low-carbon economy and the worst effects of climate change.

There is still a long way to go in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing risks and taking advantage of opportunities,” the report said. “[These] results will need to be built into government supplier relationship management as normal practice.”

In 2010, the third year of the Public Procurement Programme – a coalition of government departments, agencies and their vendors – which was responsible for the report, there was an increase in the number of public sector organisations requesting information from their suppliers and responses from vendors.

Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office minister, said in a statement: “By measuring and disclosing carbon emissions, both government and business can discover where the big energy losses are in the supply chain of government procurement - and we can then begin to work together to reduce these wasteful losses through clever technology, re-engineering of production and distribution processes, and innovative approaches to procurement.

“The number of suppliers disclosing this climate change information publicly – to government, each other and the wider general public - is also increasing, which gives some re-assurance that suppliers are managing climate change and risks prudent.”

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