Indian multinationals need to step up their plans to reduce corporate flying emissions

maart 15, 2023
Wipro is the only Indian company in the ranking to obtain a B grading

The majority of Indian companies are failing to set ambitious targets to reduce corporate travel emissions, reveals a ranking on business travel by The Travel Smart Campaign.

Globally, only 50 companies out of 322 have set targets to reduce business travel, with technology company Wipro paving the way in India. Of the companies who have targets, only four companies meet the “gold standard”, i.e. report air travel emissions and commit to reducing them by 50% or more, by 2025 or sooner. These are Novo Nordisk (Pharmaceuticals, Denmark), Swiss Re (Finance, Switzerland), Fidelity International (Finance, United Kingdom) and ABN Amro (Finance, Netherlands). Although all 10 Indian companies featured in the ranking report on business travel, only Tech Mahindra reports on air travel emissions specifically.

In the first ever overview of reporting including non-CO2 emissions related to business flying, the ranking finds that 40 companies are leading the way by reporting all greenhouse gas emissions associated with corporate flights. Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Pfizer and consulting companies Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte set the example by considering the full impact of flying in their reporting. HCL Tech is the only Indian company that addresses the ‘hidden part of the iceberg’ of non-CO2 emissions associated with their air travel.

The climate impact of business flying extends further than CO2 emissions. On top of CO2, aircraft engines emit other gases – nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and water – and particulate matter (soot).  These are commonly referred to as non-CO2 emissions, and it is estimated that they account for two thirds of total climate warming from flying. Yet only very few companies reflect the total impact of business flights by accounting for non-CO2 effects.

Denise Auclair, corporate travel manager at Transport & Environment, said: “It is encouraging to see advancements taking place in India which are being led mostly by the technology industry. We invite these technology companies to continue to work on their travel policies and demonstrate leadership to catalyse change in other industries”

Volkswagen, KPMG and Johnson & Johnson are the top three emitters[1] of the Travel Smart Ranking without a target to reduce their travel emissions. But setting such targets is possible and necessary, as companies of similar size and sector like McKinsey, Deloitte and AstraZeneca have done so.

The study shows that if 10% of companies – the biggest emitters of the ranking – set 50% reduction targets, this would go half the way towards achieving the global target of -50% in corporate air travel emissions by 2025. Reducing aviation emissions is now more crucial than ever, if we are to stay within 1.5°C of global warming.

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 cannot substitute for reducing emissions.

The Travel Smart Campaign invites companies to set ambitious targets to reduce corporate travel emissions, switch from air to rail travel where possible, and privilege virtual collaboration as a substitute to long-haul flying.

One way to achieve reduced flying amongst corporate entities in India is to get involved with  cBalance’s flagship FairTravel programme. The organisation is working with pioneering IT and Business Process Outsourcing/finance companies in India to help them reduce their air travel emissions and rethink their travel choices. cBalance have been working with Wipro since 2015, helping them adopt a more responsible and fair business travel approach, providing carbon footprinting, bespoke training and communications support for Corporate Sustainability teams among other things. As a result, Wipro has achieved ​​a 15-20% reduction of air travel emissions, between the 2015 and 2020 period.

Denise Auclair concludes: “Large companies have a pivotal role to play in reducing their business travel emissions. The means to achieve this are more accessible than ever before: rail travel when distances permit it and virtual collaboration to avoid long-haul flights.”

Note to editors:

Transport & Environment, together with a coalition of global partners, launched the Travel Smart Campaign in 2022 with a yearly edition of a corporate ranking on sustainable business travel practices. The campaign engages with businesses, with the objective that they reduce their corporate travel emissions by 50% or more of pre-Covid levels by 2025 or sooner.​

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 received a C (212) and 61 companies saw a D grade next to their name.

*cBalance’s FairTravel Program was not involved in development of this ranking methodology nor in implementing it to establish ranks for Indian companies

[1] According to 2019 emission reporting

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