Greg Clark has set a target to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the central government estate by the end of the decade.

The secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced, in a speech in Newcastle yesterday (5 July), that Whitehall will work to reduce its emissions to 43 per cent of 2009-10 levels by 2019-20.

The new target has been set after the central government estate exceeded its 2020 target of a 32 per cent reduction in 2016/17.

It is part of a wider emissions reductions pledge of 30 per cent by 2020 for the public sector, which would apply to higher education buildings as well as those belonging to councils and the NHS.

The announcement underpins prime minister Theresa May’s goal, announced earlier this year, of a 50 per cent cut in emissions from new buildings by 2030.

Clark said: “Our new, ambitious target for reducing emission across our central estate shows how this government is continuing to lead the world and rise to the challenge of tackling climate change. We have made significant progress so far, meeting our previous target three years early and saving just over £100 million last financial year as a result.

“The potential savings from this can make a big difference across the wider public sector, with the NHS saving £2 billion over the last decade; money that can be put straight back into frontline services where it’s needed most.”

The new emissions pledge was unveiled on the same day the government published its long-awaited construction sector deal – one of a number being rolled out across the economy as part of BEIS’ industrial strategy.

The document says that energy generation and storage technologies for buildings will be eligible for support from the £170 million industrial strategy challenge fund’s transforming construction: manufacturing better buildings programme.

Innovative and more efficient infrastructure technologies will help deliver the government’s objective to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030, according to the strategy.

It says the roll out of such technologies will reduce the cost of sustainable and lower carbon buildings as well as retrofitting existing buildings.

Clark also used the speech to announce the launch of the £18 million industrial heat recovery support programme, which is designed to encourage industry to invest in such technologies.

Responding to the construction sector deal, Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council welcomed the government’s commitment to the 50 per cent emissions target for new build properties but called for policies to back it up.

She said: “Targets and aspirations will only get us so far and it is vital that these low carbon objectives are swiftly integrated into the wider policy framework for building regulations and energy efficiency.”

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