posted by Shan Morgan

World Cut Winners

Shan Morgan, British Ambassador to Argentina, on the embassy's 10:10 success

Emissions data from the British Embassy in Buenos Aires

What success looks like

I’m tremendously proud to have completed the 10:10 challenge . Tackling climate change is a key commitment for the British Government and the Foreign Office, and putting this commitment into practice was a top priority for me when I took over as Ambassador.

Taking July 2008/June 2009 as our baseline year we calculate that we reduced our carbon footprint in July 2009/June 2010 by 33%:

  • 3.4% through improved efficiency in electricity consumption
  • 3.8% through  improved gas efficiency
  • 25.6% from cutting back on air flights; and
  • 0.3% through fuel efficiency on official vehicles

Breakdown of the embassy's emissions

How the reductions were made

We put a lot of technical effort into understanding and measuring our carbon footprint, then brainstorming initiatives to reduce it. We took advantage of Foreign Office funds available for investment in energy-efficient technology, and found quick wins such as installing motion sensors and turning off air conditioning fans over night. Staff came up with a range of ideas that everyone could implement; everyone recognised that the smallest contribution made a difference. Laura Martínez Quijano, our Greening Manager turned our ideas for carbon savings into a detailed action plan. She has monitored our progress rigorously throughout, and identified priorities for the future so we can keep up the momentum. The Foreign Office’s Estates and Sustainability team also gave us lots of support.

Energy prices in Argentina are extremely low, which meant improved energy efficiency couldn’t be driven by cost-savings alone

Energy prices in Argentina are extremely low, which meant improved energy efficiency couldn’t be driven by cost-savings alone. So our campaign focused on the contribution we could each make to reducing the impact of climate change in Argentina by cutting our carbon footprint.  We communicated regularly with all staff on our progress to keep up their interest and commitment.

  • We saved £6,747 in utilities through a concerted campaign to get everyone to reduce their consumption – putting heating and air conditioning on only when needed
  • Our drivers made £1,460 savings in fossil fuels for official vehicles – implementing their own ideas for more fuel efficient driving
  • And we saved £31,845 in air flights by constantly challenging the need for travel, and increasing our use of WebEx and video-conferencing for meetings. We’re now working on our first “virtual visit” programme to the UK

In addition to the resource savings, our campaign has generated a real sense of team work across the Embassy. The results have shown very clearly that small actions by every member of staff can collectively make a tangible difference.  Meeting the 10:10 challenge has given our efforts a fantastic boost – it’s a source of pride for everyone. So we’re redoubling our efforts and aiming to cut our carbon footprint by at least 15% over the current year.