The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced it will implement wide-ranging sustainability measures within its diplomatic corps.
As part of its goal of becoming the world’s ‘greenest’ diplomatic service, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office intends to replace the official cars assigned to its international diplomats with all-electric or hybrid vehicles. The UK’s embassies in Oslo and the Holy See have already received low-emission vehicles; and a further 30 embassies across four continents will replace their current vehicles by April 2020: the programme will include the installation of electric vehicle chargers at diplomatic posts. Embassies will only be permitted to purchase cars powered by fossil fuels as a ‘last resort’, in locations where hybrid and electric vehicles are not available or serviceable.
All government departments in the UK, including the FCO, are subject to sustainability targets: departments’ vehicle fleets must be at least 25% electric by 2022 and fully electric by 2030. The FCO also intends to expand its use of solar energy; and has pledged to phase out single-use plastics in all its branches around the world, saving around 142,000 waste items per year from entering local landfills. 15 Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts already operate entirely without single-use plastics, while the department has cut its single-use plastic consumption in the UK by 98%. The FCO’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint in the UK for 2018-19 was 60% lower than its 2008-9 equivalent, placing the department well ahead of targets enshrined in the government’s 2020 Greener Government Commitment.
Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, said: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time; and our fleet of flag cars is a high profile tool for demonstrating the UK’s international leadership on climate change diplomacy. I want us to be the greenest diplomatic service in the world. Shifting our vehicles away from petrol to all-electric will help us achieve this.”