During April, we have been focusing on the topic of climate change and infrastructure, considering the impact of the climate on industries such as energy and transport. In this blog post, we look at this topic at a more local level, sharing information on some of the actions the Met Office is taking to reduce the impact of transport on the climate.
The Met Office Journey to Net Zero strategy includes a focus on business travel and, when our updated baseline is published soon, commuting will also form part of our aim to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. As well as reducing business travel, we have also been making changes to our vehicle fleet including both pool cars and bikes. This not only supports our Journey to Net Zero, but also the Greening Government Commitments that one hundred percent of the government car and van fleet will be fully zero emissions at the tailpipe by 31 December 2027.
A greener pool
Two electric pool cars will soon be available for use at our Exeter headquarters for occasions when colleagues need to use this form of transport for business. With charging stations on site (including a number for people to use for personal electric vehicles), this will reduce our reliance on petrol/diesel cars.
At the end of 2022, we also took delivery of a new pool bike fleet at the Exeter office. These include six Ridgeback Avenida bikes and two Ridgeback rechargeable Electron bikes in a variety of sizes to suit different riders. These bikes can be booked for business journeys and leisure rides as well as for emergency transport (e.g., if public transport or car sharer is unexpectedly unavailable) and to try out commuting by bike.
Encouraging low carbon commuting
To assess the climate impact of commuting as well as business travel, a recent staff survey was conducted to help us better understand people’s commuting habits. Cycling was our second most common commute method, with many staff making a great effort to use greener travel options; in 2022 we were deserved winners of the National and Global Cycle September Challenge organised by Love to Ride.
The Met Office has long encouraged cycling to work, with excellent facilities available including over 300 covered cycling spaces at our Exeter headquarters along with showers and locker facilities. We are also part of a Cycle to Work scheme to help colleagues spread the cost of buying a bicycle and save on tax and national insurance. More recently, the Met Office has joined the Co Bikes Corporate Rider scheme ensuring our employees can get a discount when using Co Bikes, Exeter’s on-demand electric bike scheme.
Cycling and walking are often promoted as the most sustainable form of transport, but the infrastructure needs to be in place to facilitate these options. As well as considering the infrastructure available at our offices, we also contribute where possible to local proposals. Last month, for example, we provided a detailed response to a Devon County Council consultation on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. As well as providing some scientific context, we also commented on considerations for walking and cycling routes including taking into account the needs of those who have physical disabilities and other accessibility requirements. We look forward to seeing the results of the consultation.
As well as the climate benefits of reducing emissions by walking and cycling more, these activities also have co-benefits. These win-wins include reducing air pollution and personal health and wellbeing benefits. Next month we will be looking in more detail at the co-benefits of climate action. Follow #GetClimateReady on Twitter to learn more about our monthly topics.