The Surprising Ways Work Perks Can Save The Planet

Do you despair at how little you can affect the challenges affecting our climate? Well, as employers, our work perks can make a real difference.

We all know that every nation on this planet needs to try and reduce carbon emissions, and quickly!

As well as causing health problems, carbon emissions trap heat within the atmosphere, raising the temperature of the planet. Higher temperatures change our weather, increasing flooding and drought. This in turn affects food supplies and devastates low-lying inhabited regions around the world. Carbon emissions damage human lives.

It can be tempting to give in to despair and feel like these challenges are insurmountable. But, we still have time to affect the amount of carbon we are producing. Not just on a national scale, but on a personal one too.

And sandwiched between the national and personal levels is another tier of people who could support our country’s agenda to achieve net-zero carbon emissions: the business owner.


How is the government tackling carbon emissions?

To counter carbon emission rises, the UK became the first country to pass a law that pledges to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. This does not mean that we will produce no carbon at all. But it does mean that we will offset all the carbon we create. This could be through strategies such as direct-air capture or afforestation.

One of the key ways that the government is aiming to offset our emissions is to encourage more people to use transportation that does not produce as much carbon. In May 2020, the government launched a £2 billion package to promote greener modes of transportation such as cycling and walking. The aim was to help make urban spaces more cycle-friendly, with the addition of bike lanes, safer junctions, and wider pavements for pedestrians.


How can employers affect carbon emissions?

This was not the first scheme that the government has launched to promote cycling. In 1999, it launched the Cycle to Work tax exemption initiative that allows employers to loan bikes and cycle equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. Providing a Cycle to Work benefit and therefore making bike ownership more affordable and accessible for your employees means that you can join the war against climate change.

Education is one of the keys to ensuring future generations do not repeat the mistake of mistreating the environment that previous generations have. Even offering Cycle to Work as a benefit plants the seed in your team’s mind that there is an alternative to driving to work, as for many, driving is an automatic default.


How does cycling impact carbon emissions?

According to research by Bike Radar, cycling produces about 21g of CO2 per kilometre. This means that cycling produces less carbon than getting the bus. As a passenger on a bus, you generate 190g of CO2. So, although public transport can help reduce carbon emissions in comparison to driving, choosing to cycle even one journey to work can significantly reduce a person’s overall carbon footprint.

It might surprise you that cycling produces any CO2 at all. But when calculating the carbon footprint of any mode of transport, one has to include every factor that goes into the entire lifetime of a product. So, the manufacturing of the steel used to create the bike frame, the creation of the oil used to maintain the gears, and even the cultivation of the food that the cyclist eats to ride all contribute to the overall carbon footprint of a bike.


Saving the planet will take all of us

As a global community, to make a significant impact on the rate of carbon emissions, we need to recognise the need to make sacrifices at every level.

Yes, the government needs to ensure that all their policies are climate-friendly and that they are providing the finances to initiate nationwide change. Yes, individuals need to do their part by choosing to use their vehicles less and produce less waste.

But, as employers, we can have a role on a local level to encourage change. Ensuring that your employees have access to affordable cycling equipment may feel like a drop in the ocean. But if even one employee decides to take up the scheme, and if only one employee in every company changed their mode of transportation in this way, tiny drops can be the start of a torrent of change.