Holding the Government to account on energy performance

Under the terms of our climate change legislation, the Scottish Government is responsible for leading Scotland towards a greener future.

However, as well as setting policy, the Scottish Government needs to set a positive example for other public bodies by working to reducing its environmental impact.

Each year, the Scottish Government publishes a report outlining how it has performed against a number of set targets and earlier this month I got the chance to question them on progress.

One of the key targets set by the Scottish Government was to reduce its energy consumption by 12.6% by March 2011.  Due to the complexity in recording environmental performance, we will not know whether this target was met until later this year.

However, the latest data, for 2009-10 showed that the Scottish Government had a long way to go.  By March 2010, energy consumption had been reduced by only 3.5% despite the fact that some of the Scottish Government’s buildings were empty for a considerable part of the year.

When I asked the Minister what action the Government were taking to get back on track, I was told that the size of the estate is being reduced and the volume of electricity from renewable sources is increasing.   As the Minister who approved a contract of 100% supply of renewable energy for the Scottish Executive in 2000 which was followed by similar contracts in 2003 and 2006 I’m disappointed that the Scottish Government isn’t being ambitious in its own procurement decisions.

I’d also like to see more detail on progress on increasing energy efficiency in the Scottish Government’s own estate and on reducing its own demand for electricity – surely a financial as well as environmental priority. 

The report did show that the Scottish Government have made progress against other environmental targets in areas like waste reduction and travel related emissions and I welcomed that progress in the chamber. 

The challenge now is for the Scottish Government to redouble its efforts in those areas where it has fallen behind.