Carbon offset policy for travel

Wellcome is committed to reducing the environmental impact of the travel we fund. We recognise that some travel is necessary to carry out research. But we want the people we fund to look for every opportunity to do things differently, so that travel only happens when it’s essential and it has a carbon neutral impact.

This policy was last updated in October 2021.

What we expect from the people we fund 

We expect the people we fund to:

  • minimise the number of journeys taken by using alternatives where possible (for example video conferencing)
  • choose travel that has a lower carbon impact, where practical
  • offset the carbon emissions of journeys they do make.

This policy forms part of our grant conditions and reflects our travel policy for all Wellcome staff.

What costs we will pay 

We will pay for:

  • essential travel costs, even if the low carbon option is more expensive (for example travelling by train instead of flying)
  • project-related resources or activities that provide an alternative to travel, such as video conferencing, communication and file-sharing software
  • costs to offset the carbon generated by the essential travel. If carbon offsetting for travel is not part of your organisational sustainability strategy, you can ask us for a similar level of support for other sustainability initiatives. Your organisation must get our approval for other sustainability initiatives to be included in applications.

We won’t pay for core infrastructure that the administering organisation should provide, unless you're eligible to ask for these costs under our overheads policy. Examples of these costs include:

  • organisation-wide video conferencing packages
  • high-speed broadband
  • HD screens.

What researchers need to do 

New grant applicants must include the cost of carbon offsetting or other approved sustainability initiatives in their grant application.

Current grantholders can use their existing grant funds to cover these costs. They don’t need to ask Wellcome to do this.

What organisations need to do 

All organisations applying for Wellcome funding must have or be developing policies and procedures to help employees measure the carbon impact of the travel they need to take.

Organisations must either: 

  • have arrangements with a carbon offset provider(s) to offset the carbon impact of all travel undertaken on Wellcome grants. The provider(s) should be aligned to the values of the organisation and Wellcome.

Or, if carbon offsetting is not part of their organisational sustainability strategy:

  • seek prior approval from Wellcome to use our funding to support other sustainability initiatives.

Organisations must include these costs in their grant application.

First published February 2020.

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