'Travel Smart' is a global campaign led by Transport & Environment (T&E) within a coalition of partners across Europe, North America and Asia aiming at reducing corporate air travel emissions, as the most effective way to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impacts in the present decade.
The campaign comes at a crucial time for the direction of business flying , as air travel has reopened post-pandemic. For the critical decade until 2030, the best way to reduce aviation emissions is to fly less, as the timing for scale-up of sustainable fuels and zero-emissions aircraft is currently post-2030, and offsetting has shown to be ineffective.
Therefore, the main objective of the campaign is to reduce corporate air travel emissions by 50% or more from 2019 levels. This can also send signals to industry and other actors, and help to spark changes that will contribute to an acceleration in clean technology innovation and scale-up. Sustainable aviation is possible, and flying less now can make a big contribution towards getting on the right path.
We believe that companies have a unique opportunity to lead this change. Business travellers make up some 12% of passengers, but up to 75% of revenues on certain flights, so their choices have important leverage on the aviation industry. It is time for corporate leaders and employees to innovate their practices, adapting corporate policies to the new paradigm of flying less and achieving more. Governments also have a role in this trend that is here to stay.
Between 2005 and 2019, aviation traffic in Europe grew 67%, causing its emissions to grow at a time when they need to be falling- and emissions are projected to grow by a further 38% by 2050. This must stop.
So we have to act now if we want to reduce aviation emissions before 2030, and eliminate its climate impact by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for rapid, deep cuts, with the next three years being crucial, and reducing long-haul aviation providing the greatest potential to avoid emissions.
In the current context of the urgency of reducing oil dependency, one of the most feasible ways to do so is to maintain lower levels of flying experienced during the pandemic. Of the 64.4 Mtoe reduction in total EU oil consumption in 2020 compared to 2019, 37% was due to the drop in international aviation, despite only representing 6.3% of transport oil consumption. The International Energy Agency’s 10-point plan to reduce oil use highlights the significant contribution reducing business flights, and using high-speed trains instead of planes for business travel, can make.
Frequent flyers – less than 1% of the world’s population – account for more than 50% of aviation emissions. Corporate travel is one of the biggest drivers of aviation demand. If we reduce this by 50%, it would cut emissions by 32.6 MtCO2 by 2030 in Europe, which is the same as taking 16 million polluting cars off the road. Smarter flying is something we can all easily do. The idea of sending workers to the four corners of the planet looks increasingly outdated and inefficient.
This is not about stopping flying, it’s about flying less and achieving more. We can reduce frequent flying, substitute long-haul corporate flights for virtual collaboration, and shift from regional air travel to high-speed rail.
‘Travel Smart’ is a global campaign led by Transport & Environment (T&E) within a coalition of partners across Europe, North America and Asia.
The Travel Smart Ranking, ranks 322 US, European and Indian companies according to 10 indicators, relating to air travel emissions, reduction targets and reporting. Top global flyers from the 17 countries of the ranking represent a sizable portion of business travel worldwide. The analysis sheds light on the significant efforts certain global businesses have still to make to reduce their corporate travel emissions. Companies are given an A, B, C or D grade. In this year’s edition of the ranking, 11 companies qualified for an A grade, 38 a B, whilst the overwhelming majority (212) received a C and 61 companies saw a D grade next to their name.
Consumers, investors and employees are more concerned by the impacts of climate change than ever before. If businesses continue to fall out of step with expectations, their reputation is at risk. Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and net zero emissions, and adopting planet friendly travel policies, will enhance their image, appeal and overall success as a business.
The campaign’s ranking brings the impact of corporate travel and long-haul flying into the public sphere. It incentivizes change by establishing benchmarks on company travel emissions, and works to improve the transparency needed so as to track progress.
Businesses can make use of the unique opportunity to influence the acceleration of sustainable aviation, and to reduce their corporate emissions, by developing target-based policy, leading the way to achieve the halving of global emissions needed by 2025.
The campaign connects corporate leaders with the necessary tools to enable change, improve their standing, innovate their policies, and invest in their reputation. And governments should alsoplay their part to ensure that air travel targets are required in corporate climate plans and emissions reporting.
Sharing stories from businesses who have already adapted to the changes and seen the benefits, the campaign inspires companies and their employees to introduce a new culture of purposeful and effective corporate travel, building momentum across their networks to create lasting change.