performance against targets
26. Fulfilling the second half of our remitauditing
the Government's performance against the targets it sets itselfhas
been more difficult. Sustainable development targets, where set,
are for achievement some years hence, often without clarity over
milestones or other interim measures.
There have been few appropriate for audit (see below at paragraph
27. We have reviewed actual or likely performance
against such targets in the work set out above where it was relevant
to do so. Specifically:
the level and
distribution of domestic, EU and international climate change
targets in the Fourth Report of 1997-98 Climate Change: UK
emission reduction targets and audit arrangements and the
Second Report of 1998-99 Climate Change: Government response
various government targets for the achievement
of end-use energy efficiency in the Seventh Report of 1998-99
a more regular framework and reporting structure for Green Ministers
and these arrangements have helped that body both to develop and
to report on a fuller range of sustainable development targets;
we recommended that a protocol be established
setting out thresholds for evidence and other procedures to assist
the various parties to agree on the outcome of the field trials
of certain genetically modified crops and their impact on biodiversity;
we have followed up on the implementation
of the Government's undertaking to consider a sustainable development
remit for each further public body established.
28. We have therefore so far concentrated on 'auditing'
the Government's implementation of policy against its overall
strategic commitments, for example:
make the process of government green. Environmental considerations
must be integrated into all our decisions, regardless of sector.
They must be in at the start, not bolted on later."
"Growth must be both stable and
environmentally sustainable, delivering sustainable growth is
a task that falls across government. it will be a core feature
of economic policy under this administration. The Treasury is
committed to that goal."
29. One environmental and sustainable development
target, that is clearly due for report and audit, is the Government's
energy efficiency target: to improve energy efficiency on the
Government estate by 20% on 1990-91 levels by March 2000 picked
up from the previous administration.
The Government's report of performance
against this target was expected in the second annual Green Ministers
Committee report but is delayed. The Government accepted our recommendation
that the NAO be invited to audit the Government's data, methodology
and reporting of performance against this target.
30. Other ministerial targets, from under the environmental
wing of sustainable development, falling due during this year
(either at the end of the 1999/2000 financial year or the calendar
year 2000) are set out below.
of departmental strategies for raising awareness on sustainable
development and general environmental issues (by March).
The establishment of Green Transport
Plans (now 'Travel Plans') for all buildings where a department
is the major occupier with over 50 staff.
Greening local government
of a Local Agenda 21 (LA21) sustainable development strategy by
each local authority in the UK (challenge from the Prime Minister).
The return of
greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000 (UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)).
of the UK's installed capacity for combined heat and power (CHP)
to 5,000 MWe (adopted commitment).
The previous administration's 2000 target
for electricity generation from renewables was 1500MW of installed
capacity. This has now been superseded by new targets for 5% of
electricity generation from renewable sources by 2003; 10% by
2010 (subject to the cost being acceptable to the consumer).
of energy savings (equivalent to £800m) per year through
Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme (adopted commitment).
The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995
(HECA) does not set targets but it does require local authorities
to identify measures for the significant improvement of the energy
efficiency of residential accommodation in their area and to report
on progress being made in implementing those measures over 15
years (a devolved matterin England ministerial guidance
defined 'significant' as a 30% improvement).
administration had set a target to double forest cover in England
and Wales over the next 50 years.
This has now been superseded by sustainable forest management
strategies for each country of the UK established by devolved
authorities where appropriate.
To reduce water
leakage in England and Wales by 26% of its 1996/97 levels.
To reduce UK
sulphur emissions by 50% on 1980 levels (UNECE Second Sulphur
Air Quality Strategy objectives for nitrogen
oxides and sulphur dioxide for the protection of vegetation and
To phase out
use of chlorofluorocarbons.(CFCs) in the UK (Montreal Protocol).
administration's targets for 2000 were for (a) recycling or composting
25% of household waste; (b) composting to be carried out by 40%
of domestic properties with a garden; and (c) easily accessible
recycling facilities for 80% of households. These were adopted
as interim measures in Making Waste Work. They have now
been superseded by the Government's Waste Strategy 2000the
deadline for recycling or composting 25% of household waste is
Packaging waste: recovery45%;
material specific recycling13% of total packaging handled
by obligated businesses (statutory requirement contained in the
Producer Responsibility Obligation (Packaging Waste) Regulations
31. In addition there is the potential to audit the
Government's reporting of the messages coming from the headline
indicators of sustainable development. A comprehensive report
on these indicators is expected as part of the first annual report
on progress against the UK's sustainable development strategyA
better quality of life. We have discussed the strategy in
evidence sessions with officials, the UK Round Table on Sustainable
Development and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Environment
Further action will be taken in the light of the first progress
report. However, it is clear that, given the Government's commitment
to 'adjusting policies' where trends in the movement of these
indicators are unacceptable,
it will be important to assess the Government's definition of
'unacceptable' in the relevant cases.