Exclusive: BERR doubles its energy bill in just 4 years

by GreenWire.org.uk. Published Thu 07 May 2009 10:59
Lord Mandelson is under fire for his department's increased carbon footprint

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has been criticised after it was revealed his government department is consuming a record amount of carbon-emitting power.

Despite mounting high-profile campaigns to encourage companies and households to reduce their carbon footprint, Lord Mandelson's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has nearly doubled its energy bill in the space of just four years.

According to official figures, the annual electricity bill to power the department's PCs and printers has averaged £70,000 for the past four years. However, this year the utility bill is expected to increase by £48,439 to £121,457 and the carbon footprint will increase by 20%.

The statistics, released in a written answer by the government's business minister Pat McFadden, reveal the Whitehall department's carbon footprint will rise to 353.3 metric tons this year from just 297.6 tons in 2008.

BERR has spearheaded several initiatives to encourage UK firms and consumers to cut their carbon emissions through a series of energy awareness campaigns.

Earlier this year Lord Mandelson called for a low-carbon industrial revolution and urged the private and public sector to focus on saving money through increased energy efficiency.

And last month, the Cabinet Business Secretary picked a 17-strong team to form the “Energy and Climate Change Unit” within BERR with the aim of helping to influence the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and other Whitehall departments to “create the conditions for UK business success through key energy and climate change policies”.

But despite his department's computers all being eco-rated with Blue Angel certification for low energy consumption, its electricity bill and carbon footprint measure remain on the rise.

The Lib Dem's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jenny Willott, MP, whose parliamentary question revealed the shocking statistics, blamed Peter Mandelson and his junior ministers.
“From laptops to PCs, printers, servers and data centres, ICT is one of the most rapidly growing sources of carbon emissions in the developed world,” she said.

“Greening our IT is one of the biggest new carbon challenges we face. But while many in the private sector are taking action, Ministers have sat idly by, ignoring the role their departments have to play.

“While the department has taken some action, it has really only started to scratch the surface of greening its IT systems. The fact that emissions from IT systems are on the rise again shows that there is no time to waste.

"BERR should learn from the Department of Health, which has cut the number of printers it uses by two thirds in a year. BERR is one of the smaller departments in government, so there is no excuse. It may take some effort but the potential carbon savings are worth it.”

And Mark Wallace, campaign director for the Taxpayer's Alliance, said: “It is beyond parody that BERR, who spend all their time lecturing families and businesses about carbon emissions, seem unable to control their own.

“The government's renewable drive in particular is placing a huge financial burden on struggling businesses and yet BERR seems unable to practise what it preaches.”

A BERR spokesperson said: "Our projected 2009 carbon footprint is based on our predicted IT requirements for the year based on increasing the occupancy of the BERR headquarters at 1 Victoria Street.

“We are speaking to other organisations about the possibility of being located in this building.”

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Comments about Exclusive: BERR doubles its energy bill in just 4 years

This is just typical of the problem of politicians giving lip-service to Green issues. With this Mando is setting a really BAD example.
Lary Harding, Wirral around 4 years, 7 months ago

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