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DfE to publish roadmap to achieving sustainability and net zero following EAC calls, though funding concerns remain

16 January 2024

Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education (DfE), has confirmed to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that in order for the department to meet its sustainability targets, a detailed roadmap will be published by Autumn 2024.

On 22nd November 2023, EAC Chair Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP wrote to the Secretary of State for Education raising concern at the progress made to date on decarbonisation of the education estate in England. The Committee also pointed out – echoing similar concerns raised by the National Audit Office – that there appeared to be a significant funding gap between DfE’s sustainability ambitions and its current spending plans.

EAC welcomes DfE’s plans to publish a roadmap: this exercise ought to clarify how the Department’s sustainability targets are to be met, and the timeframe within which they are expected to be achieved. Committee members remain concerned that the long-term funding to meet the DfE’s sustainability objectives is yet to be allocated. As the Department’s current spending plans appear insufficient to ensure maintenance of the current education estate and mitigation of the most serious risks of building failure, on current plans there is little realistic prospect of sufficient funding being available for the sustainability improvements DfE has committed to make to the education estate.

Chair's comment

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“In November, the Committee raised alarm that the Department for Education’s current plans would see only 20% of the schools estate in England net zero compliant by 2050. This is a significant worry when education is currently the largest emitter of carbon from buildings in the public sector. For the whole of the UK to meet net zero, the education sector in England must make swifter progress on decarbonisation.

“I welcome the Minister’s commitment to publish a roadmap later this year for the Department for Education to meet its sustainability targets. This will be an invaluable resource, allowing the Department to set out in detail the challenge ahead and giving Ministers sufficient visibility of the urgent case for significant additional funding for this large element of the public buildings estate.” 

Further information

Image: PA