Do you know how much carbon dioxide your company has been emitting as a side effect of travel? That’s your
travel carbon baseline - how much carbon your company typically emits yearly due to travel.
Establishing a baseline for your company's carbon emissions is the first step to identifying ways to reduce
emissions, tracking future reductions and setting practical emission reduction goals.
The best method of working out your baseline is to gather records of past travel and load them into a
travel-tracking tool that has a built-in carbon calculator. The tool will calculate overall emissions,
a breakdown by mode of transportation, and an analysis by employee. Once you have that, you can develop
strategies to reduce emissions.
Why reduce your carbon footprint?
No doubt you’ve already been thinking about this, but if not, there are several reasons to reduce your
The most obvious is the environmental impact. By reducing its emissions, a company can help to combat
climate change and preserve natural resources for future generations.
But there are other benefits as well. Reducing emissions can make your company eligible for more
sources of financing. Many investors and lenders are increasingly looking for companies with a
solid commitment to sustainability, and a robust carbon plan can help demonstrate that commitment.
On top of that, reducing your travel emissions can save you money by bringing down operational costs.
Not to mention building alignment and loyalty with your staff and partners.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability too. As a result, many
are willing to pay a premium for products and services that are environmentally friendly. By reducing
your carbon footprint, you can appeal to this growing market and differentiate yourself from your
Positioning yourself as a leader in sustainability can give you a real advantage in the marketplace!
Why is a baseline important?
Establishing a baseline is essential for any company looking to pay attention to its carbon footprint
and a prerequisite to trying to reduce it. It's the easiest part of scope three emissions to calculate,
and for many companies, it is also their most significant contribution to carbon emissions.
A baseline enables you to set realistic goals for reducing emissions. Such goals make building
engagement within your teams to reduce your emissions easier. No one likes to chase goals that
they feel are unreasonable or unrealistic. Your reduction efforts are unlikely to succeed if the
team thinks they won’t work.
Once you have a baseline in place, you will be able to see your success. That helps you keep
yourself and your team accountable, but it also makes it possible to identify and celebrate
the success you are having along the way.
How to calculate your travel emissions baseline
You will need to gather records of your past travel. These may include expense claims for flights,
car rentals, trains, and hotels. We’ve found the best way to find these records is to go through
your expense tracking system. Most companies have a category for travel claims, including travel
tickets, hotel bookings, etc.
The more accurate a picture you can get, the more valuable your baseline will be, which means
getting as much data as possible. A 100% accurate record is unlikely, but to make your calculation
as precise as possible, you should look for the following:
- Flight tickets,
- Train tickets,
- Car rentals,
- Hotel bookings.
For example, let's say your company has ten employees who regularly travel for business. Over the
previous year, your research finds they took 50 flights, 25 car rentals, ten train trips, and
about 150 nights in hotels combined.
That’s a great start, but now you need to convert that data into the carbon emissions from those trips;
you can use a travel tracking platform with a built-in carbon calculator, such as Mia Bazo.
Once you have entered your travel data into the tool, it will calculate your carbon emissions for the
previous year(s). For example, it may show that your company's travel resulted in 10,000 kg of CO2
emissions. The tool may also provide additional information, such as the breakdown of emissions by
mode of transportation (e.g. flights accounted for 6,000 kg of CO2 emissions, car rentals accounted
for 2,500 kg, train trips accounted for 1,500 kg, and hotel stays accounted for 2,00kg).
In addition to the transportation type breakdown, Mia Bazo provides an emission breakdown by traveller.
This breakdown can help identify which employees contribute the most to your company's travel emissions
and develop targeted strategies for reducing emissions.
For example, maybe you discover that Annabella accounted for 10,500 kg of CO2 emissions from flights,
Billie accounted for 1,000 kg of CO2 emissions from car rentals, and Calvin accounted for 500 kg of
CO2 emissions from train trips. With this information, you can tell that Annabella’s flights make
up most of your carbon emissions. (Maybe it’s time to see if trains can replace some of those flights
or if she can combine trips to result in fewer flights.)
How to reduce your carbon emissions
There are several you can reduce your emissions, such as mandating or incentivising staff to take
low-emissions transportation options, offsetting emissions, and using carbon budgeting tools.
For example, you could mandate that all employees use rail for journeys under a certain distance. It
is also worth reminding your team of your sustainability policy and the importance of considering the
environmental impact of their travel decisions.
To make this plan work, you’d introduce regular training and education on sustainable travel options
and make the company's sustainability policies easily accessible to employees. You could create a
sustainability webpage on your internal network to make information about sustainable travel options,
carbon offsetting programs, and other sustainability initiatives available. Of course, internal talks
work well too.
A carbon budgeting tool, such as the one in Mia Bazo, can also help. Mia Bazo lets you set the maximum
amount of Carbon each traveller or team can emit annually and tells you when people have exceeded that limit.
Finally, consider working with a sustainability consultant who can advise on reducing emissions from
travel. Sustainability consultants can help companies develop bespoke strategies to reduce their
environmental impact. They can help you look at your practices and find ways to achieve the same
aims without travel or help you look at specific trips that you make regularly and find ways to
combine or replan them.
Establishing your company's baseline travel-based carbon emissions is the first step in reducing
your footprint. It allows you to track your progress and identify areas for improvement, but it
also enables you to set realistic goals for reducing emissions. By reducing your emissions, your
company can save money, become eligible for more sources of financing, gain a competitive advantage,
and have marketing benefits.
To calculate your baseline, gather records of past travel and use a travel tracking tool with a
built-in carbon calculator.
This baseline is the starting point for developing strategies for reducing your carbon or even
processing towards being net carbon negative.
Laurie Young joined Mia Bazo and our sister company in October 2022.