A new analysis has revealed that public buildings in England and Wales are pumping out 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, more than Kenya's entire carbon footprint.
According to a report in the Guardian, unpublished findings of an energy efficiency audit of 18,000 buildings including ministerial offices, police stations, museums and art galleries reveal that the 9,000 buildings audited so far produce 5.6 million tonnes of CO2, with one in six receiving the lowest possible energy efficiency rating.
AdvertisementThe carbon dioxide they produce is the equivalent of all the greenhouse gas emissions saved by the UK's wind power industry, the report said.
The Houses of Parliament and the Bank of England together consumed enough electricity and gas to emit 21,356 tonnes of CO2 a year, revealed the analysis.
Almost 70 percent of public offices had a larger carbon footprint than a typical office, as defined by the government, and while only 55 of the 8,849 buildings examined so far received an A ranking, 1,514 scored a G.
The data was released following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
In response, environmental campaigners and opposition parties called on the government to invest in an urgent programme of refurbishment to reduce the carbon footprint of the public estate, and cut energy bills for the public sector which currently add up to around 4 billion pounds a year.
Ignorance among officials, inefficient equipment and poor energy management have been cited as reasons for the result, which was described as "lamentable" by environmental campaigners.
It comes despite ministerial pledges to slash the carbon footprint of government offices by 30 percent over the next 12 years compared with 1999-2000 levels.
"This confirms that the leadership society needs from government on reducing carbon emissions from buildings isn't there," said Tony Juniper, an independent sustainability campaigner and former director of 'Friends of the Earth'.
"For the UK to have any chance of meeting the 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, which is now enshrined in law, there has to be radical change in this area," he added.
According to a spokesman for the Office of Government Commerce, which has responsibility for the energy performance of public buildings, it had set up a centre of expertise to help the public sector improve energy efficiency and meet government targets.
"A comprehensive delivery plan has been produced detailing departmental activities to achieve the targets for sustainable operations across Whitehall, and real progress continues to be made," he said.