Extra funding has been announced for electric vehicles ©  Martin Pickard/ Getty Images
Extra funding has been announced for electric vehicles © Martin Pickard/ Getty Images

UK mulls new sustainable procurement policy unit

The UK government is considering setting up a new unit to oversee all sustainable procurement policy.

In the government’s newly-unveiled Net Zero Strategy it said it was “changing the expectations on ourselves when it comes to utilising £292bn of annual procurement spend”.

“We will… explore the possibility of establishing a new single unit for all sustainable procurement policy within government to strengthen performance, coordination, and oversight,” said the report, which comes as the UK prepares to host the UN COP26 climate summit.

“The government is determined to leverage public procurement to help achieve net zero. We will use our buying power to drive decarbonisation and to create the policy tools and training to enable public procurers to grasp this opportunity.”

On 30 September new rules came into force that stipulate all firms bidding for government contracts worth more than £5m a year must commit to achieving net zero by 2050, including publishing a carbon reduction plan.

“Our goal is to go even further to embed net zero across government activity,” said the report. “This will mean that government takes net zero into account when taking decisions, public sector buildings will emit less carbon, our procurement decisions will lead to greener supply chains, and civil servants across government will have the skills they need to deliver this mission.”

The report said there would be investment in the capacity and capability of the rail network for freight, while a government response on proposals to end the sale of non zero-emission HGVs by 2035, for vehicles 26 tonnes and under, and 2040 for those over 26 tonnes, was “due to be published in due course”.

“We will support and encourage modal shift of freight from road to more sustainable alternatives, such as rail, cargo bike and inland waterways,” said the report.

The government also announced extra investment to “support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains”.

Michelle Gardner, head of public policy at Logistics UK, said: “Today’s announcement of additional funding to assist in the development of electric vehicles and their supporting infrastructure is welcome news for logistics businesses keen to change to alternatively-fuelled vehicles.

“However, as always, the devil will be in the detail and further funding, including vehicle grants, will be vital to help industry make the change. Logistics UK will be examining the proposals to ensure that logistics businesses are not forgotten and can be supported properly on the road to net zero.”

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