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A recent article in Inc. magazine talked about how Google and other companies are rewarding employees financially for saving their companies money on business travel. Great; we’re all for incentive programmes. But there’s a fundamental problem with business travel: the carbon emissions it produces.

Why not incentive programmes that reward employees who get business done in ways that emit less CO2? A Dreamliner consumes less fuel than a 737. A train journey is greener than a flight. A video conference produces the least amount of carbon.

Say an employee’s carbon budget for a quarter is eight tonnes of CO2. Every time that person spends a tonne of CO2 less than their budget, they get a bonus of $100. Every year, the company donates $500 to the environmental charity of the winning employee’s choice, or $1000 to the winning team’s choice.

Alternatively, the employee who saves the most gets an iPad, or a day trip to the spa. The team that saves the most gets a restaurant dinner. Whatever best suits your company culture.

Is it a bit cynical giving people an incentive to be good global citizens? Maybe. Should large companies, which are subject to mandatory sustainability reporting, be doing it anyway? Sounds prudent. Should smaller companies do it? Of course; we’re the good guys.

Why we're sticking our nose in

We appreciate the irony of being a travel risk company that is all about mitigating climate change. Our pragmatic side says, “People will always travel, even if we do it less than before. Which we should.”

Our passionate side says, “Each one of us, and each company, has to begin lowering our carbon footprint to zero or below, and do it now.”

Pragmatic says, “Countries such as the UK already have directives that make sustainability reporting mandatory, for companies of a certain size. The EU’s directive will come into force in 2023. Isn’t this enough?”

Passion says, “Nope. Not nearly.”

Can't we leave it to the big guys?

Large organisations, and certain public-interest organisations, already know that sustainability reporting is, or soon will be, required. Whether or not a corporation’s executives are committed to climate change, these organisations will perforce begin mitigating their climate impact. Why not turn this into an incentive for employees to contribute?

In the UK and EU alone, there are 31 million micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses. Governments do not currently require small organisations like ours to engage with our climate impact, but we believe we should be carrying our weight without being forced to.

Many of us started our own enterprises because we wanted to work in a way that was consistent with our values, including sustainability; let’s encourage everyone we employ to pitch in. And take home some goodies or cash.

The inevitable pitch

This is where I point out that Mia Bazo’s free Climate Impact service lets you calculate the carbon footprint of individuals’ and companies’ vehicles, properties and any form of travel. You can purchase carbon offset through the site, or purchase it elsewhere and enter that manually into the calculator. You can make your carbon balance public, on our website or yours.

Already, you can enter an upcoming trip into the calculator, and see how much CO2 it will emit. In the first quarter of 2022, you’ll also be able to carbon budget, carbon plan and receive suggestions for reducing your emissions.

Let’s make a game of this. Challenge people in your business network, or in your market, to match your carbon footprint. Challenge your staff to beat each other. Let’s have a race to the bottom.

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