UK: The Green Party

Last Updated: 30 May 2009
Article by Alex Beal

Environmental policies and procedures in both the public and private sectors are now ubiquitous. This article examines the motivations and incentives of those public authorities who have embraced the current climate for energy efficiency policies and more generally "green ethics".

Reasons For 'Going Green'

The Kyoto Protocol has prescribed that the UK will reduce its carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5%. Furthermore, the UK is imposing on itself legally binding national targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26-32% by 2020 and 60% by 2050. Central to meeting these targets is greater energy efficiency in buildings, as buildings are responsible for approximately 50% of the UK's total carbon dioxide emissions. An increase in the use of renewable energy will also be central in facilitating the above targets being met.

Owing to the dwindling stocks of oil and gas in the North Sea, the UK has become increasingly reliant on imported fuels from Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In turning to renewable energy, the UK can reduce its reliance on imported fuels. Further, the move towards use of renewable energy has been hailed by Gordon Brown as a "fourth technological revolution", and is clearly regarded as a hotbed for investment opportunities. Indeed, government estimates suggest that:

  • industries such as renewable energy, waste management and water treatment will be worth US$700 billion globally by 2010;
  • by 2050, the annual value of the global low carbon energy sector could be US$3 trillion; and
  • the UK environmental sector is currently worth £25 billion and employs 400,000 people with it predicted that this could double within 20 years.

These monetary projections have been key in motivating green policies in both the public and private sectors.

EU Member States frequently implement and apply EC environmental law because they are aware that the European Commission will threaten them with action for failure to fulfil their obligations under the EC Treaty if they fail to do so, rather than because they have a burning desire to implement policies which will protect the environment. In addition, the Environment Commission aims to facilitate green public procurement and other incentives for greener products. It has set a target for half of all public procurement to be 'green' by 2010.

Schemes Which Reward Public Authorities For Their Green Initiatives

There are many schemes which incentivise public authorities to adopt green policies. One such example is the Beacon Scheme which was set up to promulgate best practice across local government. Beacon status is granted to those authorities that demonstrate "a clear vision, excellent services and a willingness to innovate within a specific theme".

Almost every local authority in England has applied for Beacon status in at least one of the seven years that the scheme has been in operation. The scheme provides the chance for public authorities to gain national recognition for the innovation shown by their teams. Furthermore, Beacon winners have access to a range of benefits and opportunities as follows:

  • recognition for the authority within the community;
  • free 360 degree health check for the authority; and
  • access to additional funding.

Furthermore, it has been observed that local authorities are uniquely placed to provide vision and leadership to local communities, raise awareness and help change behaviours. Without taking action on the issue of climate change, authorities risk severe financial, social and environmental damage to their region.

The Nottingham Declaration

The Nottingham Declaration was launched in October 2000 and has been signed by more than 300 English Councils. The Declaration recognises the central role of local authorities in leading society's response to the challenge of climate change. In signing the Declaration, Councils are pledging to systematically address the causes of climate change and to prepare their community for its impacts.

As well as reassuring residents of the commitment to combating climate change, one of the chief incentives for local authorities to ascribe to the Declaration is the fact that a range of support and resources are available for those local authorities who adopt climate change and energy initiatives. By way of example, Salix is an independent company who are funded by the Carbon Trust to work with the public sector to reduce carbon emissions through investment in energy efficiency measures and technologies.

Further, local authorities have cited many examples of significant savings that have resulted from sustainable energy measures that have been introduced. For example, Kent City Council have estimated that they are saving £160,000 annually after receiving support for their energy saving measures.

Pressure To Publicise

Councils and the private sector alike are coming under increasing pressure to report on the extent of their greenhouse gas emissions and to make public their policies as to what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprints. Previously climate change policies may have been implemented as a way of differentiating local authorities and companies from their counterparts. However, in today's green focused culture, evidence of such policies are a prerequisite and the absence of proactive policies not only carries the risk of legally enforceable penalties, but moral condemnation and damage to reputation as well. Given the importance that corporate social responsibility has gained in recent years, this threat to reputation is no small concern and is undeniably a consideration at the forefront of both the public and private sectors' minds.

Interaction Between Private And Public Sector

In addition to the interaction discussed above between the public and private sectors in respect of funding initiatives, the two sectors are imminently due to be participants in a compulsory emissions trading scheme named the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). This scheme will be an obligatory emissions trading scheme for all non-energy intensive businesses and public sector organisations in the UK who are believed to account for approximately 10% of the UK's total carbon dioxide emissions. It is anticipated that the scheme will come into force in 2010. The scheme will apply to all businesses and other organisations in the UK whose total half hourly metered electricity consumption exceeded 6,000 MWh during 2008. The Government will stipulate a cap or 'allowance' on the total amount of carbon dioxide those businesses governed by the scheme can emit in one year. The Government will then auction those allowances. At the end of the year those participating businesses and organisations will have to show that they have a sufficient number of allowances to cover the amount of carbon dioxide they have emitted. If they are found to have emitted more than the number of allowances they hold, they will have to buy more allowances from other participants and likewise, if they have emitted less than the number of allowances they hold, they can sell their surplus allowances to other participants in the CRC.

The scheme is currently being consulted on and the public and private sectors have both been active in shaping the CRC.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.