The International Energy Agency (IEA) released in March 2022 a 10-point plan to cut global oil use and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The 10-point plan is designed to provide a roadmap for this transition and to help guide decision-makers as they navigate the complex challenges of decarbonising the global economy.
As businesses resume travel after the COVID-19 pandemic, companies can help support this ambitious goal by locking the emission reduction achieved during the pandemic travel restrictions with a sustainable approach to their business travel. Recommendations on this can be found in several parts of the 10-point plan:
(Point 2) – Work from home up to three days a week where possible:
Before the pandemic, the use of private vehicles to commute to work in advanced economies was responsible for around 2.7 million barrels of oil use a day. Yet, around one-third of the jobs in advanced economies can be done from home, opening up the possibility of reducing oil demand while maintaining productivity. Businesses can implement connecting through online meetings instead of long-haul flying.
(Point 8) – Using high-speed and night trains instead of planes where possible:
Trains provide a high-quality substitute for short-distance flights, which can be integrated in companies’ business travel. Based on existing high-speed rail infrastructure, around 2% of aviation activity in advanced economies could be shifted to high-speed rail, including for leisure as well as business travel. The use of night trains can be a means to cross wider distances in particular and spread traffic across different times of the day. Train travel can also be faster and more comfortable, reliable and affordable. Rail stations are often located in or near city centres, making them more convenient and sustainable than airports.
(Point 9) – Avoid business air travel where alternative options exist:
Companies adapted successfully to perform without flying during COVID-19 air travel restrictions. Many companies have invested heavily in enhancing the experience of remote meetings, making this a more effective, acceptable and viable substitute to business flights and direct human engagement. Reducing business travel can play a role in meeting ESG goals and help reduce corporate carbon footprints.
Net-zero by 2050 – sustainable travel – reduction of business travel emissions