Image 2023 08 08 T03 44 42

London Climate Action Week: green commuting solutions from Ashden CEO, Harriet Lamb

Search by
Search by blog tags

With the first ever London Climate Action Week kicking off from Monday 1 July, we’re delighted to welcome a guest feature from Harriet Lamb, CEO of sustainable energy champions Ashden, an inspiring organisation we’ve enjoyed recruiting for on many occasions.

Given the number of fantastic charities we work with throughout the sector, singling out one particular cause to throw our burgeoning weight behind can be problematic: it's rather like trying to choose your favourite child out of literally hundreds (though with that many children you’d presumably be far too exhausted to decide on anything, we should think).

But when it comes to preventing climate catastrophe, few but the most orange of presidents could disagree that it's one of, probably the most important issue of our times. However noble and essential every other objective may be, without a habitable planet we suspect they'd become what Joey Tribbiani would consider a ‘moo point’ in very little time at all.

So how can we make a difference in our everyday lives? Over to Harriet, who shares some valuable and innovative ways for charities, their staff and indeed anyone else to enjoy a greener daily commute.



Green solutions to commuter misery


How often do your colleagues arrive at the office tired and flustered thanks to a nightmare commute? Workers around the country are reaching their desks in a foul mood, miserable before they’ve even powered up their computers. 

With just a few days to go until London Climate Action Week, we should remember that clogged roads aren’t just creating stressful delays. They’re increasing air pollution that triggers serious illness and kills up to 36,000 people a year. Toxic fumes are also speeding up global warming, with scientists warning that we have just 10 years to tackle the climate emergency, maybe less. It’s a gloomy situation – but solutions are at hand. 

Sustainable energy innovators are creating happier journeys while cleaning up our air. So how could their smart thinking transform our commutes – and help employers create a healthier, happier workforce?


Electric vehicles are here to stay

Millions of us love the freedom of four wheels, with two-thirds of the UK’s commuting journeys made by car. But all too often the driver is alone in splendid isolation, particularly if they are going to and from work. 

One answer filling the headlines is electric cars. New models are constantly hitting the market, with sales boosted by improving technology, falling costs and a greater public awareness of climate change.

Last year energy giant BP bought Chargemaster, creator of the UK’s largest public charging network. At the time, BP predicted the number of electric vehicles in the UK would grow from the current total of 135,000 to 12 million by 2040. Of course, we won’t hit top speed as a nation of truly green commuters until companies like BP ditch fossil fuels – but their move into electric charging at least shows how quickly green innovation can go mainstream.



Lift sharing and green deliveries

Elsewhere, people are joining forces to cut carbon emissions through lift sharing. Companies such as Liftshare offer an app that helps people set up shared journeys, and also work directly with employers to set up workplace lift sharing schemes. In 20 years they’ve saved 800 million car miles working with organisations such as Boots, Bupa, Jaguar Land Rover and the NHS. That’s equivalent to 1,674 return trips to the moon.

Of course, our roads aren’t just clogged because of the work commute. Another reason is our online shopping obsession – which has unleashed a flood of vehicles chauffeuring our groceries, takeaways, fast-fashion bargains and Amazon packages. 

But convenience doesn’t have to trigger sky-high carbon emissions. Logistics company Zedify is using pedal-powered cargo bikes and trikes, as well as electric vans, to deliver parcels in cities up and down the UK. So next time you order a hat, hoodie or pair of headphones, it could arrive guilt-free on two or three wheels. They work with businesses of all sizes from – independent shops to e-commerce giants. Partnering with them is a great way to boost your organisation’s green credentials.

Of course, there’s still a carbon cost to manufacturing electric vehicles – and until the UK electricity grid only uses renewable energy, charging them still relies on polluting fossil fuels. So, can we get even greener?


Better places to walk and cycle

More public transport, as well as new tax measures and incentives, will help. For example, Nottingham City Councilhas introduced a workplace parking levy raising money to invest in new tram routes, electric buses, cycling and public transport smartcards. More people are using public transport and congestion has been constrained, even as Nottingham’s economy has grown.

But ultimately, we need to make greener transport more attractive. People will only be tempted out of their cars if we create liveable cities, towns and villages. 

With this in mind, theLondon Borough of Waltham Foresthas taken bold steps to shift the way people travel. Its multi-million pound‘Enjoy Waltham Forest’ project has made the borough a nicer place to make journeys by bike or on foot. The authority has redesigned road networks and crossings, built hundreds of bike hangars and storage areas, and planted 700 trees.

Travelling bike or by foot will never be the answer for everyone – but it could be a huge part of the fight against climate change, particularly in our most crowded and polluted cities. As a London cyclist, I know how much staying active boosts my physical and mental health – in fact, it’s the polar opposite of a stressful hour stuck behind the wheel. 



Employers must get ahead of the game

In March 2019, a Government survey found a record 80% of the British public were very or fairly concerned about climate change. The behaviour that most people thought would have the biggest impact on tackling climate change (if everyone does it) was choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport more instead of using a car.

Employers need to recognise that public awareness of air pollution is growing every day, as are demands for climate action. More and more staff will expect their company to see the dangers and respond. So how can employers avoid being left behind? One great way is to partner with sustainable travel innovators such as Liftshare or Zedify – or ask your local authority to follow the lead of Waltham Forest or Nottingham. Our free toolkit, launched just a week ago, makes it even easier for councils and others to lead climate action and promote sustainable lifestyles.

Employers can also help staff make the personal changes that protect their health and planet. How about bike vouchers or loans (and facilities to change and shower), or travelcard loans? The global switch to sustainable energy will only work if everyone gets their say, so ask your teams what changes they would like to see. Their feedback will create a much better working environment for all of us.

Harriet Lamb, CEO, Ashden


► Ashden supports and promotes sustainable energy enterprises from around the world, championing innovative solutions and campaigning for the changes needed to roll them out both locally and globally. Find out much more about their work, initiatives and resources at the Ashden website.


► Discover more green transport innovation... the 2019 Ashden Awards in London on 3 July 2019. Tickets are available now.


► More about Harriet Lamb

Harriet Lamb joined Ashden as CEO in May 2019, taking responsibility for the organisation’s ambitious new strategy to tackle climate change. She was formerly CEO at peacebuilding organisation International Alert and spent 15 years leading Fairtrade in the UK and globally. She has always worked for NGOs with a focus on international development, peace and the environment.



More from the Harris Hill blog

► The 2019 Salary Report: Harris Hill and Charity Job's essential new guide to charity salaries

► Charity Careers: meet James Harris from Rethink Mental Illness

► International affairs and advocacy expert Andreea Petre-Goncalves on why Brexit means exit from the UK for her multinational family

► Back to the blog homepage


  • Image 2022 11 26 T23 39 23

    Opportunity for all

    Find out how we’re working to deliver more diverse, equitable and inclusive recruitment…

    Find out more

  • Image 2022 11 26 T23 39 23

    Recruiting a charity CEO?

    Our executive recruitment specialists have an exceptional record of successful CEO, chair, trustee and…

    Find out more

  • The Harris Hill Salary Survey 2023

    Charity sector salaries

    Check out the market rate for your charity role in the latest Harris Hill Salary Survey.

    View our latest survey

News and insights

For more careers and recruitment advice: Read the Harris Hill Blog
Blogthumb Final

Thinking of temping? Here’s what to consider…

Temping offers flexibility, variety and a chance to boost your CV - but is it right for you?​ Hear from current Harris Hill temps as freelance writer and guest blogger Nicola Greenbrook explores...Do you ever catch yourself gazing out of the window, dreaming about a work life that breaks away from the conventional nine-to-five? Are you someone with multiple interests and many interconnecting ca...

Read more
Blog Thumb 2

Celebrating UK charity jobs for UK Charity Week 2023!

It's UK Charity Week 2023, so join us for a whirlwind festive tour of some of the best opportunities with charities around the country!​Yes, even though it feels about 30 seconds since you bundled last year’s decorations into an overstuffed box in the loft*, it’s December already, which means it’s time to get them down but more importantly, time for UK Charity Week 2023, celebrating the brillia...

Read more
B Corp Blogthumb Final

Harris Hill is now a Certified B Corporation

We're delighted to share the news that Harris Hill is now B Corp Certified! It makes us part of a global community of businesses meeting high standards of social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency, and leading the transformation of the global economic system. That's a big ambition, but at the simplest level, being certified is recognition that we're here for the right rea...

Read more
Blogthumb 2

Access all areas: how to use the Recite Me toolbar

As part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, the Harris Hill website now features the award-winning Recite Me assistive toolbar, providing a wide range of accessibility and language support tools for a more inclusive online experience. Here’s an overview of the benefits and how to use it.​There’s a lot to look out for when you’re searching for a new job online. In most cases, you'll actual...

Read more

Meet the 2023 Charity Softball finalists!

​Landing just ahead of the big day and 20th anniversary celebrations, meet the teams playing for glory in the 2023 Charity Softball League!Like any other year, 2003 gave the world some things we’d rather it hadn’t - war in Iraq, the SARS outbreak, the Black Eyed Peas – but over the course of that long hot summer, it also gave us (courtesy of founding father Leo Visconti) something we’re very gl...

Read more
Finance Blog Thumb

2023 Salary Survey: finance market trends

They’re certainly earning their keep in these financially-challenging times, but are charity finance professionals securing higher salaries and what’s happening in the market? Here’s what our finance experts have to say on the subject, updated from our 2023 Salary Survey, which you can view or download below for all the figures.​​​​​​Finance market trendsTo the world of charity finance now, whe...

Read more
Blogthumb Final2

How to secure new talent (without spending a fortune)

Candidate scarcity and high inflation have made securing new staff more challenging (and expensive) than ever, but there ARE ways to improve your hiring prospects that needn't cost a thing...(updated and extended from the 2023 Harris Hill Salary Survey)Beyond the world of marketing, where they grow on carefully-branded trees, our 2023 Salary Survey finds candidates in short supply and high dema...

Read more
Temps Blog Thumb

Considering hiring a temp? Here’s what you need to know…

​Hiring temps is a flexible and cost-effective way to fill gaps and bring in extra resource or skills, but if you haven't before, where should you start and what are the benefits? Freelance writer and HR specialist Nicola Greenbrook talks us through everything you need to know.What is a temp?A temporary agency worker or ‘temp’ differs from a permanent member of staff as, rather than being direc...

Read more