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January 9, 2020

Carbon Offsetting Flights for Business Travellers

When it comes to corporate social responsibility, reducing carbon emissions is at the forefront of everyone's mind - particularly with the effects of global warming continuing to dominate headlines. With carbon offsetting for flights becoming part of that conversation and a range in opinions being shared, let’s explore its benefits to business travel.

Whilst reducing how much we fly is an impactful way to help the environment, there remains a need for business travel for in-person connections and on-site visits. Studies show that both travel managers and travelling employees alike agree that in-person meetings result in closing deals and fostering new business relationships.

With no signs of business travel slowing down, solutions for sustainable travel are in progress across the aviation industry; however, it’s unlikely we’ll see mainstream solutions immediately and more likely for years to come. So what can travellers do now to reduce their carbon footprint whilst travelling by air?

How Carbon Offsetting Works for Flights

When work calls for employees to travel to places unreachable by the more carbon-friendly options of train, bus or car -- they fly. However, flights are a huge contributor to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas that leads to global warming. Carbon offsetting of flights is becoming a popular way to understand emissions as travellers look to take action for a better future.

Several charities and programmes are working to reduce the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere through projects funded through donations. Now that it’s easy to generate carbon impact data through travel management platforms, travellers and their organisations can see their emissions in tonnes and donate the price equivalent to these programmes to help offset their carbon footprint.

Carbon offsetting programmes usually consist of two different kinds of projects: forestry or energy. Forestry projects stop trees (nature’s carbon solution) from being cut down or provide for the planting of new ones, and energy projects reduce fossil fuel consumption by investing in energy efficient products or renewable technology.

It’s important to remember that donations to these programmes do not instantly offset emissions. Understanding and utilising these environmental projects truly indicates the slow process of resolving our carbon impact - so offsetting can serve as a motivator to help change habits and decision making when it comes to travel.

Choosing Efficient Carbon Offset Programmes

Technology is being improved all the time and carbon impact data can now even live inside your corporate travel booking platform. With this data on hand, if employees do choose to harness that information for offsetting, it’s important to understand how to select efficient and reliable programmes.

Efficient programmes exist, just consider these three factors:

  • Additionality: Carbon offsets must be additive to those planned or expected from existing projects and initiatives.
  • No Leakage: The project can’t be increasing emissions somewhere else whilst it’s reducing them in others.
  • Permanent: A project where the output won’t be reversed in the future.

Whilst there have been a range of opinions regarding the efficiency of carbon offsetting, investing in environmental causes which reduce emissions in the future is a positive thing. Offsetting’s growing popularity is continuously raising awareness of environmental charities and programmes which have previously been under the radar. Changing mindsets is just the first step to changing behaviour and taking action.

Why Enable Employees with Carbon Emissions Data?

Providing your employees with data on their individual carbon impact enables them to make environmentally-conscious decisions that can reduce your company’s emissions overall. It’s not hard to do with advancing travel management platforms providing carbon impact data now. Additionally, travelling sustainably is often more cost friendly and might positively impact your T&E spend as a by-product.

Taking these steps to become as sustainable a business as possible is rewarding in terms of corporate social responsibility, as well as when it comes down to reporting emissions data. Whilst current regulations only require companies to report on emissions created through business functionality, this could expand to employee business travel in the future.

Providing employees with this information communicates a wider corporate social responsibility (CSR) message from the business, gaining buy-in and contributing positively from a company culture standpoint. It enables environmentally conscious employees to understand the impact of their business travel decisions and gives them an opportunity to turn that information into aid.

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