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Departmental Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 10th March 2010.

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Photo of Paul Holmes Paul Holmes Liberal Democrat, Chesterfield 11:30 am, 10th March 2010

What discussions she had with ministerial colleagues on reducing levels of carbon dioxide emissions attributable to the use of information and communications technology in Government Departments.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Minister of State (Third Sector), Cabinet Office, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Third Sector)

My team and I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues on all areas of Cabinet Office work, including the Greening Government ICT strategy. Through actions recommended in the strategy, good progress is already being made by Departments and we are recognised internationally as leaders in this area, with savings of £6.8 million and 12,000 tonnes of carbon savings, as is reported in our "One year on" report.

Photo of Paul Holmes Paul Holmes Liberal Democrat, Chesterfield

Carbon emissions from ICT are one part of a very poor picture overall. The Minister has received £681,000 of public money from the Department of Energy and Climate Change as part of a low-carbon technology scheme. Is she confident that that will be well spent when, of the 13 Cabinet Office buildings, none has received an energy efficient rating, and five, including Downing street, got a worse rating in 2008-09 than they did in the previous year?

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Minister of State (Third Sector), Cabinet Office, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Third Sector)

Yes. One reason why those buildings got a slightly worse rating was that there was more activity and staff worked later nights. However, that is still not acceptable, and we are ensuring that we put that money to good use to bring down carbon emissions across the estate.

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

As my hon. Friend Paul Holmes said, IT is one element of the Government's carbon footprint. The latest figures show an increase in the amount of energy consumed by IT in some Departments, and Government buildings are shown to be among the least efficient in the country. Does the Minister agree that the announcement in December of less than £3 million for pilot projects to reduce emissions from Government buildings is too little, too late?

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Minister of State (Third Sector), Cabinet Office, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Third Sector)

The hon. Lady will not be surprised that I do not agree. Reducing energy use and carbon emissions produces savings as well. One of the results of the Greening Government ICT strategy that we are proud of is that, as we produce savings by reducing energy use, we can plough that money back into ensuring that we reduce carbon emissions still further. The money will be put to good use, and I can assure her that plans are on track for significantly reduced carbon emissions.