Red face for Scottish Environment agency as chief admits failing to meet green target

 

Professor James Curran, Chief Executive, SEPA
Professor James Curran, Chief Executive, SEPA

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency claims in its latest report to have achieved all of its environmental targets it set for 2013 – 2014 covering travel and transport, waste, biodiversity and procurement – but it has also admitted that its overall C02 emissions rose by 2.75%.

Successes include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all transport and travel by 9.6% – including a 10% reduction in emissions from business car travel and another 22% drop in emissions from flights. 

Transport and travel has seen the number of SEPA business miles almost halved in five years and the number of domestic flights reduced by 85% since 2006 – 2007. SEPA also claims it has recycled 72% of its waste, implemented a range of biodiversity projects across its estate, and achieved a 10% sustainability weighting in its procurement of eligible goods and services.

However, the report also shows that keeping pace with its ambitious long term greenhouse gas emission target remains more challenging. SEPA aims to reduce its overall emissions by 42% by 2020 based on a 2006 – 2007 baseline.

While SEPA’s missions are 11.9% lower than the baseline year, its total emissions of carbon dioxide rose by 2.75% during 2013 – 2014.

James Curran, Chief Executive of SEPA, said: “I admit that I’m frustrated by reporting a 2.75% rise in our overall carbon emissions

“While this was an expected increase as a result of the biggest ever change in our estate, we also understand that we should be at the forefront of current thinking on reducing carbon emissions.  

“As a result we are in the process of modifying our buildings to be fewer, smaller, more energy-efficient and electrically heated.

“We believe that the most sustainable long term strategy is to heat our buildings by electricity, using power drawn from a Scottish grid that is substantially provided by renewable sources.  Scotland is well on the way to greening its grid, however we have to use a UK grid conversion factor for our reporting. 

 “This year, therefore, we have for the first time made our own estimate of SEPA’s emissions using a carbon conversion factor for a Scottish, rather than UK, electricity grid to better reflect our real-world impacts. I’m pleased to report that our estimate of our overall emissions using this approach shows a 32% reduction against our 2006 – 2007 baseline.”

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