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Government failure to track grey fleet emissions

Date: 19 October 2010   |   Author: Tristan Young

Almost all Government departments have ignored grey fleet in their CO2 reduction efforts, according to an investigation by BusinessCar.

BusinessCar used the Freedom of Information Act to ask 14 Cabinet-level Government departments about their grey fleet CO2 figures.

Only two departments record accurate CO2 figures for their grey fleet: Education and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A further six departments estimate their grey fleet CO2 figure using mileage claims and the Government's official average CO2 figure for the UK cars. However, because grey fleet cars are typically older than average, this CO2 figure is thought by some experts to be optimistic.

The figures are significant because at the end of this financial year all Government departments are supposed to have cut their road CO2 output by 15% over the figure for 2005/06, according to a targets announced by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. These targets, called Sustainable Operations for the Government Estate specifically included all road vehicles including fleet cars, hire cars and personal cars on Government business.

BusinessCar also asked the departments if they knew the amount of grey fleet miles as a percentage of their total business mileage. This was because at the end of last year Buying Solutions, the Government's procurement agency, estimated that the majority of public sector miles (57%) were carried out in grey fleet vehicles.

Again, only eight of the 14 were able to give a current figure for this percentage. And of these, only four could give an exact figure for preceding years.

A public sector fleet insider BusinessCar spoke to said he wasn't surprised by the results. He said the cause of the problem was the public sector's proclivity to keep all grey fleet figures "off-book" so that they aren't seen in budgets or targets.

Grey fleet and carbon reduction expert Malcolm Noyle added: "The SOGE targets are largely ignored by Government departments because they're not aware, or there's a lack of understanding. Whether it's a case of bad management by those running the fleets or those issuing the targets is unclear. The least they should be doing is measuring miles claimed by employees and then they'd have a rough handle on it.

"If they're not managing grey fleet then they're not managing all kinds of factors. It's a huge risk."

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