the power of green procurement by hgc95776

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									the power of green procurement
Mogens Peter Carl, Director-General for the Environment at the European Commission, explains why the
public sectors in European countries are better off going green


  E
            urope’s public authorities are
            influential consumers. They have an
            annual budget equivalent to 16 per
cent of the EU’s GDP – around 1,600 billion –
so if they spend this money on greener
products and services, they can make an
important contribution to environmental
protection and eco-innovation. And now that
environmental pressures are increasing, this is
rapidly becoming a global imperative.
  The effects of climate change – storms,
floods, droughts - are becoming more evident
and more intense. The five hottest years on
record since the 1860s occurred within the last
decade. The recent UN Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment shows that two thirds of the
ecosystems that provide us with essential
services - such as food and fibre, clean air, and
fresh water - are being significantly degraded.
In addition, rapidly developing economies are
further increasing the pressure on the
environment. We must find ways to reduce the
negative impacts of our production and              MISCONCEPTIONS                                      purchasers can include environmental criteria
consumption patterns on our environment,            The most common arguments against green             in their tender documents. Governments are
health and natural resources – and this is          public procurement are that it is more              even allowed to go one step further and decide,
where public authorities have a role to play.       expensive than conventional procurement, as         for example, to make green purchasing
                                                    well as problematic from a legal point of view.     mandatory for certain parts of their
LOWER CO2 EMISSIONS                                 Both arguments are incorrect.                       administration, or set targets for certain
A study conducted for the European                    Many green alternatives, like energy-efficient    product groups. Apart from that, the legislation
Commission, the EU’s executive body, between        computers, printers and photocopiers, are no        focuses on the principles of non-
2001 and 2003 shows just how important this         more expensive than conventional products.          discrimination, equal treatment and
role could be. If all public bodies in the EU       And even if some other products are more            transparency, and seeks to ensure best value
switched to green electricity, they would avoid     expensive in terms of their initial purchase        for the taxpayer’s money, a level playing-field
more than 60 million tonnes of CO2 emissions        price, they save money during their life-cycle,     for competing contractors, and European-wide
per year, thus contributing towards 18 per cent     which offsets the initial cost. Typical examples    competition.
of the EU’s Kyoto target on reduced                 are energy-saving bulbs, which are around four
greenhouse gas emissions. If the public sector      times more energy-efficient than their              STATE OF PLAY IN THE EU
also started purchasing energy-efficient            counterparts and last up to ten times longer,       A recent survey shows that only seven of the
desktop computers – each year it buys more          and printers and copiers that can print double-     25 EU member states practise a significant
than 2.8 million PCs - another 830,000 tonnes       sided – which cuts down on paper                    amount of green purchasing, meaning that
of CO2 would be prevented, which would bring        consumption.                                        more than 40 per cent of their tenders
us an additional 0.25 per cent closer to the          It is therefore important for authorities to      published in the year preceding the study
Kyoto goal.1                                        look not just at the up-front price, but at the     contained green criteria. But even in those
  Green public procurement would significantly      whole life-cycle cost of a product: its purchase    “front-running” countries - Austria, Denmark,
improve the take-up of new environmental            price, the cost of use and the cost of disposal.    Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden
technologies, particularly in areas where public    In this way, they will find that buying green can   and the UK - there is scope for improvement,
authorities are important consumers such as         even save the taxpayer money, through               because many of these “green” tenders were
ICT, transport and construction. In this way,       reduced operating costs, reduced use of             not formulated in a clear, non-discriminatory
through the effects of economies of scale,          resources and reduced waste generation.             way.3
production costs would go down and we would           From a legal point of view, the EU’s new            According to the survey, major barriers to
be better equipped to fight today’s great           Public Procurement Directives of 2004,2 which       green public procurement are lack of
environmental problems, including climate           the EU member countries had to transpose into       environmental knowledge, budgetary
change, the loss of biodiversity and                their national legislation by January of this       constraints and legal uncertainty. The European
unsustainable use of the world’s resources.         year, make it absolutely clear that public          Commission and many EU governments are
>>   working to overcome these obstacles.

STIMULATING GREEN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
The European Commission has published a
Handbook4 to help public authorities further.
“Buying Green” explains in clear, non-legal
terms how to include environmental criteria in
the different stages of a public procurement
procedure, going from the definition of the
subject matter to the formulation of contract
clauses. It also contains a number of concrete
examples of local authorities buying green.
  Our website on green public procurement5
has useful background information and links to
databases of environmental criteria for
products, to national websites on green public
procurement, and to environmental
management schemes and eco-label websites.
We are continually updating the website to
include more structured and focused
information for both policymakers and
purchasing officers, and practical examples of
green tender specifications.

ECO-LABEL CRITERIA
Purchasing officers are often not acquainted
                                                      “A recent survey shows that only seven of
with environmental issues and do not know             the 25 EU member states practise a
                                                      significant amount of green purchasing”
where to look for the right criteria. The
Commission therefore also promotes the use
of eco-label criteria in tender documents, since
they are an easily accessible source of
environmental information for many product            the mid-1990s.
groups, in particular in the ICT sector. The new        Green public procurement therefore plays an        Notes:
public procurement Directives expressly allow         important role in many of our policy initiatives,    1 For more details about environmental gains,
for the inclusion of eco-label criteria, as long as   from our climate change policies, to the             see: http://www.iclei-europe.org/?relief
they are non-discriminatory and objective, and        Environmental Technologies Action Plan, which        2 Directive 2004/18/EC of the European
have been adopted through stakeholder                 encompasses a range of measures to                   Parliament and of the Council of 31 March
consultation on the basis of scientific               overcome barriers to the development and             2004 on the coordination of procedures for the
information. There are many national eco-             wider use of eco-technologies, and Integrated        award of public works contracts, public supply
labelling schemes – as well as one European           Product Policy, which seeks to reduce the            contracts and public service contracts and
scheme - that comply with these conditions,           negative environmental impacts of a product          Directive 2004/17/EC of the European
and the Commission has issued specific                throughout its life-cycle. EU leaders have           Parliament and of the Council of 31 March
guidelines for the use of eco-label criteria in       repeatedly stressed the importance of eco-           2004 coordinating the procurement procedures
green public procurement.6                            innovation for EU competitiveness in the             of entities operating in the water, energy,
  To raise awareness and improve the quality of       context of the EU Strategy for Growth and            transport and postal services sectors
green tender documents, the Commission is             Jobs.7                                               3 More information at:
also financing workshops in various EU                                                                     http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/gpp/me
member countries and will shortly develop a           MULTIPLE BENEFITS                                    dia.htm#state
training toolkit with concrete examples of green      By promoting energy efficiency and renewable         4 The Handbook is available in all EU
tender specifications for a list of products.         energy sources, green public procurement can         languages at:
                                                      also contribute to a more sustainable energy         http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/gpp/gui
POLITICAL CONTEXT AT EUROPEAN LEVEL                   system in Europe, as set out in the recent           delines.htm#handbook
In recent years, the strategic importance of          Green Paper on a European Strategy for               5 At:
public procurement for both the environment           Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy.8         http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/gpp/
and competitiveness in Europe has been                Other benefits include more sustainable use of       6 At:
receiving growing attention in EU member              natural resources, waste prevention and              http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/gpp/gui
states and at European level. It is a simple win-     recycling, and more sustainable cities.              delines.htm
win situation: we need new products, services           Because of the huge purchasing power of the
and technologies that are less harmful to the         public sector, we can achieve immense
environment to be able to cope with today’s           environmental benefits by encouraging them to
environmental problems, and on top of that            “buy green”. We must not miss this chance.
                                                                                                                FOR MORE INFORMATION
they have the potential to open up new markets        The European Commission will continue to               To view more articles on green public
and create new jobs. The EU eco-industries            work closely with EU governments to promote            procurement go to
sector already accounts for one third of the          green public procurement throughout Europe,            http://ec.europe.eu/comm/environment/gpp/
global market, which is estimated at 550              but it relies on each individual purchasing            media.htm
billion per year, and it has enjoyed a healthy        officer deciding to give it a try and thus help to
annual growth rate of around 5 per cent since         achieve a more eco-friendly world.

								
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