Wellcome Trust - Carbon Offset Policy for Travel

What does the Wellcome Trust expect?

As outlined in their Carbon offset policy for travel, the Wellcome Trust is committed to reducing the environmental impact of the travel they fund but also recognises that some travel is necessary to carry out research.

Wellcome expects the people they 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.

New grant applicants must include the cost of carbon offsetting in their grant application.

Current grantholders can use their existing grant funds to cover these costs. You do not need to ask Wellcome for permission to do this.

What is the College's position on carbon offsetting?

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.

Although the College is still in the process of selecting a suitable Travel Carbon Offsetting Provider for the longer term, it is acceptable to use There Must Be An Alternative (THEMBA) as a carbon offset provider in the interim (see ‘How do I charge carbon offset costs to a Wellcome grant?’ section below). Other potential sustainability initiatives will be considered as part of the College’s Sustainability Strategy and there are also plans to review the College Expenses Policy.

Currently, carbon offset is not an eligible cost for all research funders. Before charging this to an external research award, check the specific terms and conditions to ensure the expenditure is allowable.

What costs will Wellcome pay for?

  • Essential travel costs, even if the low carbon option is more expensive (e.g. 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 (note that Wellcome will not fund organisation-wide video conferencing packages, high-speed broadband or HD screens).
  • Costs to offset the carbon generated by the essential travel.

How do I calculate carbon offset costs for a Wellcome grant application?

When preparing an application to the Wellcome Trust, applicants should always consider whether the proposed travel is essential to deliver the objectives of the research project. Staff should also follow the guidance and restrictions detailed in the College Expenses Policy, such as class of travel.

Use the Carbon Footprint calculator to calculate the carbon emissions associated with the travel you plan to undertake. The calculator covers flights and other forms of transport, e.g. car, bus and rail. Once the carbon emission (in tonnes) has been calculated, multiply this by the College’s interim carbon cost. A simple Excel template can be downloaded to calculate the offset amount to include on your Wellcome Trust application.

Carbon Offset Costs Excel Template (Excel)

NOTE: If you are an authorised Worktribe super user, add carbon offset costs using the analysis code (166139 – CO2 OFFSET) under “Travel and Subsistence” and include a clear description of the purpose, e.g. “Carbon offset for flights from A to B by Professor J. Bloggs for XYZ project meeting”.

How do I charge carbon offset costs to a Wellcome grant?

An interim carbon offset provider called There Must Be An Alternative (THEMBA) is already set up as a supplier on ICIS.

To charge offset costs to an existing Wellcome Trust grant, follow these steps to raise a purchase order on iProcurement:

1. Select the Supplier called There Must Be An Alternative (THEMBA) (supplier number 7007447).
2. In the Item Type box – select "Goods billed by quantity".
3. In the Item Description box - enter:
    (a) amount of CO2 emissions calculated per unit metric tonne of CO2;
    (b) brief description of what is being offset, e.g. flights, rail;
    (c) purpose of travel. For example, "XX carbon offset for flights from A to B by Professor J. Bloggs for XYZ conference" or       "XX carbon offset for rail travel from A to B by XYZ research group/ department for XYZ project meeting";
    (d) name and email address of the person responsible for retaining a copy of the carbon offset certificate for project          audit purposes, e.g. “Send offset certificate to Professor J. Bloggs; j.bloggs@imperial.ac.uk”.
4. In the Category box - enter 'T.Y' for UK travel or 'T.Z' for non-UK travel.
5. In the Quantity box - enter the quantity of CO2 emissions (in metric tonnes).
6. In the Unit of Measure box - enter the ‘College cost per Tonne of CO2e’ figure which is stated in the “Carbon Offset Costs - Excel Template” (see link above).
7. In the Currency box - select GBP.
8. In the Supplier Item box - enter the description “Carbon offset costs”.

Once the Purchase Order has been submitted, it will take approximately one month for the offset cost to be charged against the designated project account. THEMBA will also issue a carbon offset certificate to the person specified in the PO Item Description box. The certificate must be retained as evidence of the offset charge for audit purposes.