When calculating an organisation’s carbon footprint, it usually comes as no surprise that business travel contributes a significant amount to the final figure. Although this may come as quite a shock, it does present opportunities to implement changes in order to achieve future reductions.

For those who have set or are interested in setting Science Based Targets, it should be noted that purchasing offsetting, does not count towards achieving these targets, only actual emission reductions.

1 Avoid Travelling

One The biggest impact will likely come from reducing the amount of travel that takes place in all forms. For many, the hardest part will be balancing traditional ways of doing business face-to-face with replacements through virtual conversations. Popular software such as Zoom and Skype have become the norm, and when combined with video conferencing systems can still provide personal connection that can be missing without meeting. Lifesize’s Impact of Video Conferencing Report mentions other benefits including better productivity, innovation and work life balance.

2 Implement a Travel Policy

One key action that organisations can take is to set science-based targets (SBTs). These are environmental targets that are set in line with the global targets, making them more robust and meaningful and in line with climate science. The current SBTs have been set in line with the 1.5°C target as of early 2019. This is a global movement, designed to future-proof companies and limit catastrophic climate change as far as possible. At present, over 500 organisations are taken science-based climate action, we are proud that we are one of these organisations. 

3 Flight Class

If air travel needs to take place, it may be useful to investigate the travel class that is being used. When calculating the carbon footprint of flights using the 2019 UK Defra Carbon Factors for a long haul flight, the emissions per passenger km for first class travel are 0.60kg c02e, for business class 0.43kg c02e and for economy 0.15kg c02e. This is calculated by the amount of space taken up per seat on the plane.

This means a one-way flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK airport will have a carbon footprint per person of 3684kg c02e for first class, 2671kg c02e for business class and 921kg c02e for economy class. For those undertaking several trips per year, a switch from business to economy class will mean a reduction in comfort but also a significant amount less emissions.

4 Road Travel

Organisations with a large amount of road travel have several options available to reduce fuel consumption. Moving towards low emission fleet vehicles will reduce the carbon footprint per km driven compared to an average diesel vehicle by 35% for hybrids and 90% for battery powered electric. Organisations can apply for a free fleet analysis through the Energy Savings Trust, providing advice on vehicle choice, improving driver behaviour and looking at alternatives for Grey Fleet such as daily rental, pool cars, car clubs and public transport.

Another opportunity is booking taxis that have a fleet of low emission vehicles. There are also amazing companies such as Pedal Me who provide a courier and taxi service in central London on custom bikes.


If you are interested in calculating your organisation’s carbon footprint and working with us to reduce your impact please get in touch.  

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