Some of the world’s leading corporations are focused on sustainable travel. Does your company have a plan for tracking, limiting or offsetting its carbon footprint?
The world is starting to travel again as COVID-19 vaccinations become more readily available. As the global economy opens up, corporations are being asked to think about sustainable travel. Just last October, climate activists attempted to occupy London City Airport, protesting a £2 billion expansion plan that the group said contradicts the airport’s plans to go carbon neutral.
In the past, such protests may have been viewed as radical acts. But, in 2021, corporations are starting to take a closer look at what business travel means for the world and the environment — and how they can take steps toward more sustainable travel programs. Read on to learn more about the sustainable travel movement and how leading businesses are approaching it.
Leading Companies are Setting an Example
A recent Business Travel News story listed corporations that are focusing on sustainable travel, including Microsoft, Capegemini and EY. BCG, a consulting firm, has also committed to “reducing emissions by 30 percent per employee by 2025,” an effort that the company admits will be just as challenging as it is worthwhile.
“We need to respect the core of our business and the value creation for our clients, but also the employee value proposition,”
“We need to respect the core of our business and the value creation for our clients, but also the employee value proposition,” said BCG’s Kathryn Bell. “So we’ve looked across our whole business and looked at why we travel. The data piece of this is so fundamental because we will pull those levers to meaningfully reduce emissions without impacting the value we create for our clients.”
BCG is taking 3 approaches to reducing its travel-related carbon footprint. First, it is aiming to reduce overall travel, asking team members and other stakeholders to travel only when necessary. Second, BCG will identify virtual platforms and meeting technologies that can serve as a “meaningful substitute” for in-person gatherings that once required travel. Finally, BCG will engage with third parties to offset the carbon footprint the company creates when it does travel.
That last approach is one that the travel industry is likely to see more of in the future as sustainable travel becomes a point of emphasis. Companies like Microsoft, Capegemini, EY and BCG can’t move to fully virtual meetings, eliminating business travel altogether. So what do they do to offset the carbon footprint that remains unavoidable?
In BCG’s case, the company will “compensate with a mix of nature-based and engineered [carbon] removal projects,” according to Bell. She specifically mentioned reforestation and engineering projects to rid oceans and soil of carbon. These undertakings will be expensive, but BCG is committed to balancing the environmental impact of its essential travel.
New Technologies and Providers for Sustainable Travel
One of the traditional challenges for sustainable travel has been quantifying a company’s carbon footprint. Larger companies like Microsoft may have had chief sustainability officers with the teams and resources needed to work on sustainable travel. But smaller companies without sustainability-focused executives were left without reliable data related to the impact of their business travel programs.
That’s starting to change.
Companies like Thrust Carbon are emerging, offering services that deliver rich data related to emissions and a company’s travel activities. Thrust is currently looking for partnerships with booking tools so that this information is more readily available to the businesses that use them.
Travel Managers should look for data like that produced by Thrust Carbon. In the near future, this data might be available within a company’s corporate travel booking tool, making it far easier for Travel Managers to estimate their companies’ carbon footprints.
How is the Travel Industry Promoting Sustainability?
Companies within the travel industry are jumping into the sustainability game, too. Here’s a look at how different types of vendors are addressing their environmental impact:
- Airlines: Leading air carriers are addressing sustainability in myriad ways. For example, United is committed to going 100% green by 2050, an effort that will include sustainable fuel, carbon capture programs, as well as sequestration.
- Hotels: Hotel chains like Marriott are also taking aim at ambitious sustainability goals. Marriott has created a series of goals with 2025 deadlines that align with sustainability goals outlined by the United Nations.
- Car Rental Companies: Car rental companies can’t help but create emissions as their customers drive rented vehicles, but they are making efforts to reduce their impact. Enterprise, for one, launched the industry’s first carbon offset program in 2007 — a program it continues managing today.
- Other Organizations: Regulatory agencies, non-profit organizations and other groups are also focused on sustainability in travel. The Future of Tourism is just one organization that is working to ensure that global travel does not do irreparable harm to the environment.
Stay Current With JTB Business Travel
Travel Managers have the difficult job of managing their travel programs while also keeping up with travel industry trends and news. At JTB Business Travel, we help make Travel Managers’ lives easier by communicating industry changes and by making available the latest and greatest in travel technologies. We keep up with trends and news so that you don’t have to — including trends and news related to sustainable travel.
Contact us to learn more about how we support Travel Managers.