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more companies can re-engage in activity, which for many is a nice-to-do rather than business-critical,” he says. “That’s not to say it ever went away and many companies have continued to valiantly fly the sustainability flag. But they tend to be organisations that make significant, say double-digit, profita- bility rather than those who don’t.” Freya Burton, chief sustainability and


WORDS MEGAN TATUM W Companies with


publish policies on environmental protection


500+ 89%


employees must develop and


the percentage by which PwC reduced the


client-facing flights since 2007, when it introduced mandatory approvals


buyingbusinesstravel.com number of non


ARNINGS DO NOT COME MUCH BLEAKER than the recent UN paper on climate change. According to its authors, who are some of the world’s leading scientists, there are now only 12 years for global warming to be contained before it wreaks havoc on the lives of


millions. Alarming as it was though, the 700-page IPCC report did contain hope. If temperatures can be kept at or below the threshold, disaster may be averted; a feat that would require “unprecedented action”. Undoubtedly, governments have a major role to play within that. But, increasingly, business and the corporate world are being looked to as well. So crucial is their participation, in fact, that the EU and UK government have introduced mandatory reporting requirements in some cases. For those companies with more than 500 employees, this includes developing and publishing policies on environmental protection while, since 2013, all UK-listed companies must report on their greenhouse gas emissions as part of an annual directors’ report. And business travel is a major con- sideration for any company, whether caught within those reporting regulations or not. For this and other reasons, it’s an issue seeing a resurgence in interest from com- panies after falling down the priority list in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash, says Tom Stone, corporate travel leader at consultants Nina & Pinta. “It indicates the economy is performing better and, therefore,


people officer at sustainable fuel developers Lanza Tech, says: “There is a growing drive from the consumer side now more than ever in terms of awareness of their carbon footprint and sustainability. Just look at how many people pack their own coffee mugs and water bottles compared to before. That’s filtered through into more conscious travel.” It’s a consideration that doesn’t always


have to come with additional costs either. According to research by Travel Counsellors for Business, enhancing green credentials can be a strong potential source of competi- tive edge both through improved reputation and saving cash through alternative travel options. Natural England, for example, set itself a target to cut operational carbon emissions by 50 per cent in 2006 and by 2010 its business travel spend had shrunk from £4 million to £2.5 million per year. “A well-executed strategy will also deliver significant programme savings,” agrees Thomas Maynard, senior director at business travel consultancy Advito. “We’ve seen a client cut carbon emissions and save US$5.5 million in five months by creating a more sustainable travel policy,” he says.


TIME TO JUSTIFY YOUR TRIP How can travel buyers put this approach into practice? After all “arranging any type of travel is challenging, and trying to do so with a conscience is even harder,” admits Dave Ashton, chief executive of train booking platform Loco2. In the first instance, avoid unnecessary


trips. “We have seen an increase in the need for travellers to justify travel,” says Maynard. “While typically the driver behind reducing travel demand is budget control, the knock-on impact is good news for both sustainability and traveller wellbeing.” That has been one of the cornerstones of the sustainable travel policy at PwC,


2019 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 139


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