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Firms should encourage employees to take low-carbon commuting options – report

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Firms should encourage their employees to take more carbon-friendly choices in their mode of travel when commuting, a report from CBI and KPMG has suggested.

Transport accounts for around a third of UK carbon emissions, while 20 per cent of all distanced travelled pre-pandemic happened on commutes.

The ‘Greener Miles’ report said that people will need to change the way they commute if the UK is to meet its obligations to reach net-zero by 2050.

It recommended that employers take greater responsibility for the emissions created by their employees’ commutes by factoring them into their net-zero strategies.

It also suggested they should incentivise their employees to use public transport, make arrangements for shared and active travel options, and install on-site charging facilities for electric vehicles.

Last year, it emerged that while the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions were falling overall, the transport sector had seen little improvement even though it is the biggest polluter.

Part of this can be explained by the relative ease of decarbonising centralised electricity production facilities, like removing coal plants from the grid, compared to transport initiatives like getting millions of people to dump their cars for electric vehicles or major public transport works, which typically cost billions of pounds and take years to complete.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “If the UK is to meet its obligations to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, decarbonisation of commuting will be vital.

“However, this will require not only significant public and private investment in infrastructure and technology, but also a shift in business and employee behaviours to match.

“A key change will be for businesses to now take greater responsibility for their employees’ commutes.”

Richard Threlfall, of KPMG, added: “As Covid-19 restrictions start to ease, employees are reconsidering where they work and how they commute, giving employers a unique window of opportunity to reduce the impact of these journeys on the environment.”

Last year saw the largest global emissions drop in history due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which curtailed international travel and shut down workplaces.

The greatest reduction of emissions was observed in the ground transportation sector, where working from home restrictions resulted in a 40 per cent drop in transport CO2 emissions worldwide.

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