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2017 Will See Continual Focus on Sustainability for Public Sector

Feb 28, 2017

Whilst shifts in political climate occur, climate change policies remain key focus

After several momentous changes to political systems both in the UK and abroad in 2016, 2017 hails as the year of uncertainty for many. Whilst a shake-up of the establishment could be on the cards, there are several policies which continue to feature as key moving forward for the Public Sector. This drive for sustainability comes after several years of continued dedication to reducing carbon footprints and backing more ethical business practices. The Climate Change Act remains the starting point for policy makers, a basis for Britain’s new Industrial Strategy. The UK has also set in motion a fifth carbon budget, which sets goals backed up by the government’s emissions reduction plan, due in March this year.

Positive changes

Positive progress is being heralded throughout the Public Sector, with UK emissions falling year on year, currently measured at 38% levels in 1990. This signals an average reduction of 4.5% per year since 2012. These reductions are attributed to the shift away from coal and other fossil fuels. The Public Sector also places huge importance on the levels of emissions produced by the buildings they operate within. Clear indications show that these buildings are considerably more efficient than those operated by the Private Sector. Higher education institutions in England are also making ground-breaking progress towards their goal of 38% reduction in emissions before 2020 and the Greening the Government initiative set in place by the coalition is being met or exceeded by 17 out of 22 central government departments.

What are the current challenges?

Although this progress appears encouraging, there are several areas which could heavily impede the attainment of goals set by government. Funding is being cut to areas such as resilience to climate-related impacts such as flood prevention and council-driven domestic energy efficiency schemes. Without this all-important funding, goals will surely not be met and progress in other areas will be put under extreme strain.

How could this effect procurement this year, and for years to come?

A focus on sustainability will inevitably have an impact upon Public Sector procurement, with local governments and other bodies seeking assurance of suppliers’ sustainable practices. This could mean further tender questions related to a business’ operational impact on the environment, evidencing emissions which remain within governmental guidelines or renewed focus on the added value a supplier can bring. As further pressures are placed upon public sector buyers to achieve sustainability goals and come in under increasingly depleting budgets, the impact will surely be felt across suppliers in the future.

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