Looking up into a leafy tree canopy

Our journey to Net Zero; carbon neutral by 2030

As a leading contributor to United Nations climate research the Met Office knows first-hand how greenhouse gas emissions are impacting our climate. We have therefore set out on our journey to Net Zero and charted a pathway to neutralise the harmful greenhouse gases from our operational activities and supply chain.

We aim to substantially reduce these, eliminating them where possible over the next decade, and offset residual emissions that are not currently possible to remove in their entirety.    

Our emissions are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas, or an equivalent (CO2e) amount of other greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide or hydrofluorocarbons. Our total CO2e emissions are often referred to as our carbon footprint. 


Our starting point 

To understand our carbon emissions an initial baseline assessment was conducted of the Met Office CO2e emissions for the 2019/20 financial year. We have since completed a thorough re-assessment of our baseline, incorporating all we have learned since we embarked on our journey. This includes a comprehensive view of the emissions from all the equipment and services we need to deliver our essential customer services. This allows us to identify key areas to tackle and those where we can make the biggest improvements. 

Our baseline assessment divides emissions into four broad components:  

Areas of focus on our journey to Net Zero: Building Management. Procurement and Supply Chain. Scientific Data Collection. Business Travel.

Existing successes 

We have already made significant achievements on our journey towards Net Zero. 

  • In 2020, the electricity supply to our main operational locations was switched to zero carbon electricity. As this included our current supercomputing capability located in Exeter, this has already saved over 15,000 tonnes CO2e emissions a year.  

  • We have taken a number of other measures to improve our building management efficiencies. This includes the installation of solar panels, the use of borehole water, recycling IT and improvements in waste management.   

  • We have set (and so far, exceeded) targets aiming to reduce business travel emissions by 40% by 2030. We have reduced our commuting emissions and will formulate plans to reduce them much further by 2030. 

  • We have used certified offsets for our remaining business travel emissions and continue to research whether we can help develop UK nature-based offsetting going forward. 

  • We have engaged with our major suppliers, from those providing satellite data to those supporting our world-leading computing facilities, to understand their emissions and start working with them on their own net zero journeys. 

  • We have worked together with the international meteorological community to ensure all our future weather and climate services are provided in as sustainable way as possible. 

The graph shows the Met Office's aim for emissions over the coming years until 2030. The graph shows gradual reductions in emissions until 2029, when carbon offsetting is introduced.

Our updated pathway shown on the graph above outlines our ambition to reduce the Met Office’s baseline annual emissions, which were c. 59,000 tonnes of CO2e in FY2019/20. Achieving our projections would leave residual emissions of c. 17,500 tonnes CO2e by 2030, which could be reduced further or neutralised by offsetting. 

Support for other organisations 

Our substantial increase in supercomputing capability will lead to improvements in weather forecasts and climate change predictions. As the national deadline to reach Net Zero by 2050 looms, the new supercomputing capability will play a central role in understanding how carbon budgets and mitigation scenarios will avoid the most dangerous impacts of global climate change.  

The Met Office is already working with leading businesses and organisations to increase energy efficiency and improve resilience with the long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions. Detailed forecasts are being used to optimise energy usage, improve efficiency of renewable energy sources and even reduce the carbon footprint of air travel, thanks to detailed wind forecasting helping to plan flight paths. 

Next steps 

To maintain our focus on becoming carbon neutral by 2030, we will work closely with our staff, partners, customers, supply chain and stakeholders in government and the wider meteorological community. Together we can make further real changes and adapt the way we work while still providing safety critical meteorological services and world-renowned climate science. Having prioritised organisation effort, from October 2019 to March 2023, to develop a science-based approach to reducing our CO2e emissions, we will now embed our Net Zero approach into everything we do as a business.   

We have already learned from those around us and the Met Office journey to zero net emissions by 2030 will continue to be re-evaluated and adapted over the course of the 2020s as more technologies become available. We will continue to develop detailed action plans to put in place for each step of our journey.  

The table shows how the Met Office is aiming for Net Zero in the coming years, looking at reductions in emissions in the areas identified in the page.

Met Office journey to zero net emissions by 2030 report

Find full details of the Met Office Net Zero journey, as of June 2023.

Met Office travel

As an environmental organisation, we encourage our staff to consider greener alternatives to travel, both on the daily commute and while on business. 

Travelling to work

Our head office in Exeter is in a prime location due mainly to its excellent transport links by road, rail and air, making it easily accessible from other parts of the UK and overseas.

Cycling to work

The Met Office supports Cyclescheme. Staff can choose a bike and accessories up to the value of £1,000.

We also have a Met Office Bicycle Users Group (MOBUG) group which organises social trips at weekends and night rides during summer months; the group promotes the health benefits and social aspects of cycling.

We also have a selection of pool bikes at our headquarters that staff can borrow including two electric bikes and a fold up bike. Using the pool bikes often help staff decide the type of bike they would like if they are thinking of purchase their own.

Travelling whilst on work 

We work with Clarity Travel Management to help with our business travel needs. By using a single service provider, we are able to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Air travel

However, as an organisation with the environment very much at its heart, we recognise the need to limit air travel. Therefore, our staff must go through a rigorous justification process in order to determine whether air travel is essential.

In order to reduce the need for air travel, alternative approaches such as Microsoft Teams and video conferencing are available.

The white fleet (our owned and leased vehicles)

We have leased two fully electric pool cars at our Exeter headquarters for business travel and we are working to move our operational vehicle fleet over to zero emissions vehicles in line with the Greening Government Commitments.

Supercomputer and environmental benefits

Our Cray supercomputer, or High-Performance Computer (HPC), takes in hundreds of thousands of weather observations from all over the world. It uses these observations as a starting point for running an atmospheric model containing more than a million lines of code. As of 2020, our supercomputer has been powered by zero carbon electricity. 

The capacity of our supercomputer enables us to improve our weather and climate forecasts. These forecasts help people make better-informed decisions, realising socio-economic benefits by avoiding costs, reducing waste and improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Ultimately, our supercomputer helps to shape a more sustainable world - from warning of extreme weather to helping communities plan for and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Delivering environmental benefits

The supercomputer requires a large amount of energy to run and maintain - about 2.7 MW of electricity. Everything possible is done to minimise this, and the power consumption remains small in comparison to the socio-economic benefits that the supercomputer makes possible.

Take our global aviation forecasts, for example, which enable airlines to save fuel by using the wind to help carry them to their destination, helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through increased efficiency.

Crucially, Met Office forecasts save lives through our Severe Weather Warnings, mountain area forecasts, marine forecasts, and a host of other services, including our climate advice and services which help avoid widespread and dangerous impacts of climate change.

Supercomputing makes it possible to increase high-resolution climate modelling and provide more complete Earth System models to better assess future impacts of a changing climate at a regional scale, especially from high impact weather. This gives decision-makers a clearer picture of climate change and what it will mean, helping to plan for a more sustainable future.

Find out more about our supercomputer.

Reporting our energy consumption

Our greenhouse gas emissions performance is overseen by our Environmental Policy Committee which includes an Executive Board member. Each year we publish details of our energy performance in the Sustainability section of our Corporate publications.

From 2012, we participated in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES), the regulatory scheme administered by the Environment Agency with the aim of improving energy efficiency in large public and private sector organisations.

A summary of our CRC emissions for each reporting year can be seen below:

2012-13 CRC Emissions: 23,737 tCO2

2013-14 CRC Emissions: 20,764 tCO2

2014-15 CRC Emissions: 20,520 tCO2

2015-16 CRC Emissions: 18,696 tCO2

2016-17 CRC Emissions: 20,377 tCO2

2017-18 CRC Emissions: 22,301 tCO2

2018-19 CRC Emissions: 18,343 tCO2

Our supercomputer accounts for most of our energy consumption and the variation between the different reporting years is due to the different phases of implementing our new supercomputer. For example, during 2012/13 we were running both our old and new supercomputers in parallel for a period.

The final compliance year for the CRC EES was 2018-19 and the scheme has now closed.

Find out more information about the CRC EES scheme.