Green Public Sector

Tomorrow Thinking: TODAY

The Public Sector has a major role to play in ensuring that the UK economy goes green. Like all of us it is on a going green journey.

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How Green is the Public Sector?
The Public Sector plays a key role in promoting sustainable development and acts as an exemplar to business regarding what can be achieved. As a major buyer of goods and services from the private sector, it can (and does) insist that companies that supply it, do so in a sustainable manner.

What is the Governments Sustainable Development Strategy?
The Public Sector first committed to leading by example on sustainable development in 2005, with the publication of The UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy, (Securing the Future).

Four priority areas were identified for action across the UK:

  • Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Natural Resource Prioritisation and Environment Enhancement
  • Sustainable Communities.

Every public sector organisation was required to develop their own detailed sustainability plan to meet the challenges outlined in this strategy. They all did this, with many of them becoming exemplars on how to develop a sustainable strategy, set targets to reduce their environmental footprint and achieve them.

The Securing the Future strategy was withdrawn in 2018 as it became clear that more radical action was required to reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In June 2019, the UK Government signed the net zero target into law. This committed all of us in the UK to become net zero (in terms of carbon emissions) by 2050. This initiated a change in the direction of sustainable development policy to the more activist approach of investing in innovation and projects to meet the UK’s net zero target.

What Drives the Public Sector to Go Green? The Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener

The UK Government’s net zero target requires all of us to decarbonise everything we do by 2050 and to offset any emissions that cannot be removed. For the public sector this requires all their buildings to be decarbonised in the same way as all domestic buildings. The scale of this challenge is huge, given the number of schools, hospitals, council, and other public sector buildings in the UK. Each public sector organisation will have to find ways to meet the net zero target, and this will require a robust action plan to be put in place.

Going Green will be working with the public sector in the same way as we are with business. We will be developing a community to share ideas and providing guides and training to help the public sector meet the challenges ahead.

The public sector has a huge task in investing proposed government funds, which are outlined in their Build Back Greener strategy. Support is being provided to decarbonise energy, the industrial sector, transport, the agriculture sector, and domestic properties.

The investment proposals across the public sector, business and residential areas include:

  • £1.425 billion to decarbonise the public sector to ensure a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from public buildings by 2037
  • £315 million in an energy transformation fund to future proof industrial sites
  • £450 million for a 3-year gas boiler upgrade programme
  • £60 million to make the UK heat pump ready to support the government’s target of 600,000 heat pumps a year being installed by 2050
  • £140 million to fund new hydrogen and carbon capture and storage as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Revenue Support Scheme (IDHRS)
  • the launch of a hydrogen village trial to help inform a decision on the role of hydrogen in the UK’s heating systems by 2026

Investment in the transport sector includes:

  • £3 billion to create integrated bus networks
  • £1 billion in the Automotive Transport Fund to support the electrification of UK vehicles
  • £620 million for zero emission grants focusing on local or residential charging
  • £2 billion to ensure 50% of journeys into towns can be cycled or walked
  • £180 million to support the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) plants to meet a target of aviation fuel consisting of 10% SAF by 2030

In the agriculture sector the government is:

  • supporting sustainable farming through the Farming Investment Fund and the Farming Innovation Programme
  • spending £750 million (by 2050) on peat restoration and woodland creation to support farmers in meeting their net zero targets through land use changes
  • The Build Back Greener strategy also describes how the UK will need to be transformed into a low carbon economy by investing £1.5 billion to support net zero innovation projects
  • All these ambitious plans will require new skills to be developed in the public and industrial sectors as well as in households. These skills will all be essential as we all go green and meet the 2050 net zero target

Going Green will play its part through its:

  • community of subscribers
  • its grants team
  • the Going Green Academy
  • a library of handy guides and tips

These will support the public sector, business, and individual households on their journey towards a green sustainable future.

This Autumn we launch the Going Green Academy, the UK’s green training platform, helping you to future proof your business. To register your interest in joining the Going Green Academy, launching this Autumn, please subscribe here.