• Sara Bean
  • 28 March 2012

Greenest Government never?

In the latest issue of Workplace Law Magazine, I reported on three key FM-related conferences.  All three kept coming back to the same theme – that of the facilities manager’s role in meeting sustainability requirements.

Judging by the enthusiasm and knowledge of green issues amongst both delegates and speakers, organisations have really got on board the green agenda, but the Government’s approach to the whole green thing is confusing.

It boasts about its aim of being the Greenest Government ever, then announces it is to suspend or revise a whole set of green regulations as part of its red tape challenge.

And while the ongoing message may be that sustainability is good, a clear message from George Osborne last week was that being fiscally sustainable was much better.

Now comes the news that the mandatory reporting of carbon emissions for UK companies is to be postponed. Environmentalists and business group are angry at what WWF for one says is a 'fudge', that it casts yet more doubts on whether the Government is serious about a green economy and that the delay represents a deplorable lack of leadership.

In fact, WWF, environmental think tank Green Alliance, Greenpeace, RSPB and Christian Aid produced some damning evidence on the Government’s progress in delivering its low-carbon promises last September.

Climate Check, An analysis of the government’s delivery of its low carbon commitments revealed that the Government had made either moderate or no progress on 22 of its 29 low-carbon commitments. More worrying still, it suggested there were low levels of support for the Government’s low carbon agenda in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

So is this lack of enthusiasm really down to deplorable leadership? Well, writing for the Green Alliance, Duncan Brack, Chris Huhne’s former special adviser, points out that while David Cameron pushed the green agenda before coming into power, since becoming Prime Minister he hasn’t made one single speech on environmental issues aside from his promise to lead the “greenest Government ever”.

Is this because he’s nervous about offending those within his own party who see green issues as the equivalent of tree hugging?

It seems to me, if the Government took sustainability as seriously as it has the aim of killing off the 'elf n safety monster', there would actually be some real progress – not what is looking increasingly like empty promises.