This week ICAO, UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization, will vote on CORSIA, the airline sector’s global environmental plan. According to this plan, the airline industry will voluntarily make its growth carbon neutral from 2020; from 2027 neutral growth will be mandatory. Because new technologies and bio fuels are not yet sufficient, offsetting will be used to reach this goal. But the airline industry is commonly criticized for doing too little too late, and for only considering growth. But especially in limiting air travel growth there are opportunities to reduce the climate impact.
From Climate Neutral Group analysis for ‘frequent flyer’ companies we know that by travelling smarter reducing emissions from business travel by 10-25% is easily achievable and also saves 6-15% of travel costs. Still we see that it is not high on the agenda for most companies. Reason for us to interview 18 internationally operating companies about what they are already doing to make their business travel more sustainable. What measures have they taken and what challenges have they faced?”
Time to put business travel on the table
All interviewed companies have sustainability as a high priority, but the sustainability of business air travel is not or is only barely considered. The sustainable ambition for business travel, the interviewed CSR and travel managers only graded this with a six, stays far behind with that of car travel (an eight) or energy (even a nine). Three quarters of the companies that CNG spoke with, have a CO2 reduction goal for the organization, but only a fifth have one for business travel. In addition employees often have a lot of freedom in choosing their travel. According to the interviewees, travellers always have a ‘yes, but’ ready when asked to travel more sustainable. They would like to know how to motivate travellers to take sustainability into account when making travel decisions, but most of all they would like to get the possibilities from the management to steer employee travel behaviour.
According to the interviewees, placing business travel higher on the sustainability agenda firstly is in management’s hands – the question is what is holding them back. The CO2 emissions from business travel are significant, an average of around 20% of the total CO2 footprint for these companies. So for companies that prioritize climate and cost consciousness, it is definitely worth it. And it is a much-needed contribution to helping the airline industry to reach its goal of a 50% reduction CO2 emissions by 2050.
Just imagine if all companies reduced their CO2 emissions from business travel by 15%…
The moral of this story? It is time to put business travel on the table within companies. That constantly came up during the interviews. That is not easy, of course. One does not change behaviour from one day to another. We need ambassadors within companies who show management and travellers that they can make a difference. Our white paper ‘The 10 Success Factors for a Sustainable Travel Policy’ offers practical guidelines and inspiration to get started.
More about the study? Download the White Paper Business Travel >>