New report by American Express Global Business Travel finds complex range of challenges and benefits to implementing more sustainable corporate travel programmes.
A large majority (78%) of businesses surveyed by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) in 2019 do not currently address reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their travel policies, despite rising public pressure.
While almost half (47%) of businesses surveyed have a formal environmental sustainability policy in their organisations that covers indirect GHG emissions (which include business travel), only 42% factor environmental sustainability in their air sourcing processes – and fewer do in their ground transport and hotel sourcing. In addition, 79% of businesses surveyed do not require their preferred airlines to have environmental certification. A quarter of respondents use third parties such as travel management companies (TMCs) to help reduce their carbon emissions.
The Green Travel report analyses the drivers, barriers and benefits of bringing sustainability to business travel programmes, and offers best practices for greener travel, including use of ride-share apps, carbon offsetting schemes, direct flights and environmentally certified hotels.
Harris Manlutac, Head of GBT Global Business Consulting for APAC, says businesses are conscious about the need for greener travel, but have yet to widely adopt best practices.
“There is definitely high social awareness among both employees and business leaders, however green travel programmes are still a rarity. The first step in creating a more sustainable travel programme is to measure emissions. By doing this, a business can gain a thorough understanding of their travellers’ environmental footprint and put practical plans in place,” says Manlutac.
The GBT report revealed only 42% of respondents currently measure carbon emissions from air travel. This was largely because sustainability initiatives focus on direct emissions from core business activities. They do not take into account indirect emissions from ancillary activities – the majority of business travel falls under Scope 3 of the GHG Protocol, which captures indirect emissions relating to transport activities, outsourced activities and some electricity-related activities.
Manlutac says “This lack of focus on indirect emissions is a key barrier to sustainability in travel. It’s not always clear what steps can be taken to implement meaningful sustainable practice in business travel. This lack of know-how, the cost of going green and competing priorities in booking travel make up the primary barriers to green travel.”
He adds “Auditing your travel programme is the first step in understanding its environmental impact. From there, with internal stakeholder buy-in and external expert support, businesses can start to create and roll-out effective sustainable travel strategies.”