The UK government is failing in its commitment that the public sector should “lead by example” on decarbonisation, MPs said today.
A report from parliament’s Public Accounts Committee criticised the poor quality of emissions measuring and reporting.
It said vague guidance and inconsistent standards led to low compliance with agreed standards.
Fewer than half of government departments complied fully with mandatory reporting requirements.
All these failings made it hard to hold government to account on progress to net zero emissions, the committee said.
It also said it was not convinced that government, or the wider public sector, were using emissions data to shape decision-making.
Responsibility for emissions reporting is split across three departments and oversight is fragmented, the committee said.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has overall responsibility for delivering net zero emissions by 2050. But it does not hold individual departments to account.
Outside central government, the public sector has no agreed reporting principles or standards.
The committee said different parts of the public sector have been developing their own approaches to measuring and reporting emissions.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:
“The targets set to maintain our world in a liveable state are not ‘nice to have’. Government made a legally binding commitment to deliver net zero by 2050.
“Government promised to lead the way to national decarbonisation but isn’t even putting its own house in order.
“Vague guidance and lack of follow up make it hard for the public to hold the government to account.
“A free for all on reporting veils progress or lack of it. Government needs to be clearer and must publish consistent standards for measuring and reporting emissions across the public sector.”
The committee said:
- BEIS is not communicating progress on decarbonisation in the public sector clearly enough and does not hold individual departments to account.
- The public sector as a whole lacks clear standards for measuring and reporting emissions.
- Leadership and oversight of emissions measurement and reporting in central government is fragmented and ineffective.
- We are not convinced that departments are making effective use of the emissions data to drive decision-making.
- The public sector risks falling behind on the reporting of its emissions but could learn from developing practice in private sector and the devolved administrations.
The committee’s recommendations included:
- BEIS should regularly publish data setting out the progress the public sector is making on decarbonisation and how this compares to the required trajectory.
- BEIS and the Treasury should set a timetable for issuing consistent standards for measuring and reporting emissions for the entire public sector.
- BEIS, the Treasury and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should consolidate, simplify and clarify current measuring and reporting guidance.
- BEIS should use data it collates to plan decarbonisation activities