A new T&E ranking of corporate air travel reveals that work is underway to reduce emissions by businesses, but more action is needed. Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, is the only Scottish company that achieves the highest possible grade for its corporate travel emissions reduction plans. Lloyds Banking pledged to reduce business travel by 50% by 2021.
The ranking, launched as part of T&E’s new Travel Smart campaign, grades 230 US and European companies according to eight indicators, relating to emissions reduction targets, reporting and air travel emissions. The analysis, which includes four Scottish corporations (and 39 companies in total from the UK), sheds light on the significant efforts certain Scottish businesses have still to make to reduce their corporate travel emissions. Only one company gets an “A”, whilst the three others achieve a “C” or “D”.
Royal Bank of Scotland has made a company-wide emissions reductions target, but no commitment, yet, to reduce corporate air travel emissions by a certain date. The Bank could be encouraged to make ambitious business travel commitments in line with the reduction they experienced in 2020, helping to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5°C warming scenarios. Energy giant SSE receives the lowest score, as it makes no specific effort to reduce business travel emissions, nor disclose its air travel emissions.
Marie Ferdelman, Policy Officer, at Transform Scotland, said: “The pandemic proved that businesses can be as effective and even more efficient by flying less, and some companies, notably Bank of Scotland, are showing that reducing emissions from business flying is entirely possible. Cutting down on business travel makes financial sense for companies. Scots are crying out to reduce our dependence on oil, and smarter traveling is an easy way to do so.”
A company with an A score has an absolute reduction commitment for air travel, some of which have committed to a 50% or higher reduction target by 2025. These companies have been reporting their business or air travel emissions for more than a year. The businesses meet the ranking’s highest standard for corporate travel and set the example for other corporations. Eight companies (3%) in the ranking reach that score.
The Travel Smart Ranking shows that many companies are not yet stepping up to reduce their business travel levels. Out of the 230 companies, 193 fail to act with sufficient speed and ambition to tackle corporate travel emissions. Businesses like Google, Facebook and Microsoft lie in the ranking’s lowest category and must accelerate their transition to becoming smart travelers, T&E says.
Transport & Environment, and a coalition of 12 partners, have launched the Travel Smart Campaign and a new corporate ranking at a crucial time for the travel industry, as business flying is starting to pick up post-pandemic. In 2019, business travel accounted for about 15 to 20% of global air travel, or about 154 million MtCO2. But the sector experienced a huge shock with the Covid pandemic and business travel spending declined by 52% in 2020, from 1.4 trillion USD in 2019 to 694 billion USD in 2020.
Companies now have a unique opportunity to lead by innovating new practices, adopting air travel emissions reduction targets and locking in the lower emissions habits they acquired during the pandemic. T&E’s Roadmap to climate neutral aviation for the EU showed that a reduction in corporate travel was the single most effective way to reduce aviation emissions in the short term, where it counts most for the climate. By reducing corporate travel by 50%, we would cut emissions by 32.6 MtCO2 by 2030 in the EU, which is the same as taking 16 million polluting cars off the road.
T&E’s new Travel Smart campaign asks companies to:
- Commit publicly to an absolute target of at least 50% reduction in flying of 2019 levels, by 2025 or sooner;
- Implement reductions in flying and choose other modes of connectivity and transport;
- Report on progress towards decreased emissions.
Matt Finch, UK director at Transport & Environment added: “Traveling smart is about being as productive as possible and making every single meeting count. Whilst not all business travel can be avoided, rail is a quick and green alternative to domestic flights and allows you to carry on working on”.