With lockdown restrictions wavering and some elements tightening up, the travel industry is allowed to continue after a long period of domestic business operations. National Geographic reported that CO2 emissions plummeted dramatically during lockdown, with daily emissions recorded at 17 per cent below last year’s levels.
Considering this, there is a need now more than ever for us to consider our carbon footprint and impact on the planet, particularly in business. The BBC reported that aviation contributes to roughly two per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, with passenger numbers predicted to double to 8.2 billion in 2037. In 2018, there were eight million business trips taken from the UK — taking a long haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person does in a year. With other sectors of the economy working towards a greener way of life, aviation’s negative contribution is set to rise.
One positive that can be taken from lockdown is that these reduced CO2 emission levels show that when humanity work towards a shared goal, changes can happen. So here, we’ll take a look at how to keep your business trip eco-friendly, looking at alternative ways to travel or developments in technology that allow businesses to work remotely.
1. Can you stay domestic?
First things first, do you really need to travel at all? Technology has become incredibly useful in allowing us to connect with people all over the world, and these digital tools have revolutionised the working world, facilitating virtual meetings. The pandemic has put remote working software to the test, with offices split and a vast majority of workers working from home — Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype for Business have been on the forefront of remote working.
Tech software is empowering companies to be more productive and efficient. Large amounts of time and money can be saved by choosing to switch to virtual meetings rather than flying for several hours across the world. Relationships can be maintained internally and externally without needing everyone in the same room.
2. Assess the transport
If it is essential that you travel, consider your mode of transport. For example, do you really need to fly? If it’s possible to take a train or bus instead of a plane, you should consider it. Travelling by train releases around seven times less emissions than a plane does in the same route. Although this might not be feasible for cross-country trips, it’s certainly more efficient and sustainable than regional or national flights. Eco passenger is a handy tool to compare the energy consumption and CO2 emissions when travelling with different transport.
For example, a journey from London to Madrid would release 43kg of CO2 per passenger by train and 118kg by plane.
3. Flying economy
In the event that no other mode of transport is possible, and you must take a flight, fly economy class. According to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), carbon emissions are three times higher per passenger per kilometre travelled for business class and four times higher for first class. This is due to the fact that there’s more space per seat, with each person accounting for a larger amount of the pollution of the plane.
4. Flying direct
Did you know that strength of wind and number of passengers on board can impact fuel usage? Planes also use significantly more fuel when taking off and landing, making direct flights more economical. On a four-hour flight, the surge of engine power used to elevate the plane to the appropriate cruising altitude can account for anywhere between 10 and 20 per cent of total fuel consumption.
5. Pack light
The lighter you pack, the less fuel needed to transport it. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be packing a 138-litre suitcase for a several day business trip, be sensible with what you take with you.
6. Research the airlines
Although it may seem extremely contradictory, there are eco-friendly airlines which are more environmentally friendly than others that you could choose to fly with to reduce your carbon footprint. The average fuel consumption per passenger is below four litres per 100km, however some companies are making effort to improve their fuel consumption and efficiency to meet internal targets set within the industry.
These internal targets may include having a greener fleet with newer models of aircrafts (older aircraft use more kerosene, a combustible hydrocarbon liquid derived from petroleum) and using more environmentally friendly materials. You can also carry out additional research by finding which aircraft you’ll be flying on and which models are more fuel efficient. For example, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 are leading the way in terms of fuel efficiency.
You can research CO2 emissions for your flight with Matrix Airfare Search by comparing similar airlines and routes to find the most eco-friendly route and airline for you.
7. Carbon offsetting
It’s important for businesses to offset carbon emissions, and it is possible to book a flight with an airline which does just that. The rise of ‘flygskam’, which when translated from Swedish means ‘flight shame’, has put pressure on airlines to offer travellers the option to offset the carbon emissions of their flights.
This is a process which involves calculating the emissions of a journey and then purchasing credits from projects which focus on preventing or removing the equivalent amount of pollutants somewhere else. For example, many carbon offsetting programs include planting trees to help absorb carbon dioxide to remove it from the atmosphere, a key part in tackling climate change. According to the offsetting watchdog Gold Standard, the amount of investment from those hoping to cancel their carbon impact on the planet has risen fourfold over recent years.
It’s important to assess your means and methods of travel if you want to work towards a cleaner and greener world. Consider this guide on your next business trip.