15 July 2020

How can you reduce your company’s carbon footprint… without giving up business flights?

Air travel has transformed the way companies do business, building quick, effective travel routes that allow organisations to create networks all over the world. But international travel comes at a cost to the environment; a cost that both individuals and corporations are becoming increasingly aware of, and concerned about.

In May 2019, air travel reached its peak, with over 9,000 flights taking to UK skies in just one day – ironically, the same day as schoolchildren around the world took part in a climate change protest. For many people, this moment was a catalyst for change.

But how can companies reduce their carbon footprint when, realistically, they need to still take business flights? Let’s take a closer look…

The escalating impact of aircraft pollution

There’s no doubting the significant impact that air travel is having on the environment; when you combine the global CO2 emissions and water vapour trails from aircraft, flights are responsible for around 5% of all global warming.

And while many planes have been developed to become more fuel efficient, the sheer volume of flights being taken has led to a 32% increase in carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights between 2013 and 2018 – a much higher rise than initially predicted.

With business travellers more likely to fly frequently than those travelling for a personal holiday, it’s important that the corporate sector takes these statistics seriously, and looks at ways to reduce their flight-related environmental footprint.

4 ways to reduce the impact of corporate travel

The fundamental challenge most companies face is that they want to understand how much their air travel impacts the environment, but they don’t have the right tools in place.

To overcome this obstacle, an increasing number of professional organisations are investing in climate impact tools. These tools use travel tracking software to map all journeys taken by employees over a period of time, to calculate the exact carbon footprint being generated.

Travel tracking is a great way to benchmark a company’s climate change contribution, but how can organisations use these insights to make improvements? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Cut back on air travel – recent restrictions on global movement during the coronavirus pandemic forced many organisations to swap in-person trips for video conferencing and telephone calls.

    Now it has been proven that business can be conducted remotely, firms have an opportunity to change their approach to corporate travel and reduce their annual air mileage.

  2. Choose greener aircraft – while most businesses can afford to cut back on international travel, there will still be occasions where corporate trips are necessary. In these scenarios, climate impact tools can help companies to make effective decisions about which airline carriers to travel with.

    While every aeroplane emits a certain level of greenhouse gas emissions, some types of aircraft are more fuel efficient than others. For example, aircraft such as the Boeing 787, 737 Max, Airbus A20neo and A350 use up to 25% less fuel than older aircraft.

    Choosing airlines that predominantly fly more fuel-efficient planes will also push other suppliers to invest in newer, cleaner aircraft, improving emissions across the market.

  3. Be more strategic about business trips – in addition to choosing greener aircraft, there are other ways in which organisations can reduce the climate impact of overseas trips.

    For example, it’s better for the environment for firms to send one representative abroad rather than two, who can report back to the wider team. Equally, it makes sense to combine client trips in the same or nearby regions; staff might be away for slightly longer, but they will travel less frequently during the year as a result.

  4. Carbon offset - for unavoidable trips, companies can work with their travel tracking technology provider to develop carbon offsetting programmes, which support environmentally positive initiatives that counteract the impact of travel emissions.

Progress over perfection

Travelling less will always be the easiest way for businesses to increase their eco-friendly credentials, but this isn’t always a realistic or practical option for companies.

With the support of climate impact technology , businesses can calculate and analyse their carbon footprint, to understand the environmental impact of travel activity. With the right technology partner, they can then develop strategies to reduce this footprint – from choosing air travel providers that operate more fuel-efficient aircraft, to carbon offsetting essential travel.

By adopting this ‘progress over perfection’ approach, companies will be able to take small but significant steps towards tackling climate change, without impacting day-to-day performance or banning business flights altogether.

To see how climate impact tools can benchmark your carbon footprint and help you choose fuel-efficient airlines, book a free Voyage Manager demo.