Vector illustration of planet Earth with footprint on dark background
Travel restrictions have been relaxed and people are starting to travel to different countries after several months of lockdown and a motionless economy. According to National Geographic, daily CO2 emissions fell 17% below last year’s levels during the lockdown. While it is positive for the environment, the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere increased to 418 parts per million, equating to the highest ever recorded level.
It has never been more important for us to evaluate our carbon footprint, particularly in business. The BBC reported that aviation contributes to roughly 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, with passenger numbers predicted to double to 8.2 billion in 2037. In 2018, there were eight million business trips taken from the UK – taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person does in a year. With other sectors of the economy working towards a greener way of life, aviation’s negative contribution is set to rise.
The fall in CO2 emissions exhibits how we can make changes when humanity works towards a common goal. So here, we’ll take a look at how to keep your business trip eco-friendly, looking at alternative ways to travel or developments in technology that allow businesses to work remotely.
- Alternative options. If it is essential to travel, consider your mode of transport. For example, do you really need to fly? If it’s possible to take a For-Hire Vehicle, train, or bus instead of a plane, perhaps you should consider it. Traveling by train releases around seven times fewer emissions than a plane does on the same route. Although this might not be feasible for cross-country trips, it’s certainly more efficient and sustainable than regional or national flights.
- Sacrifices. If other modes of transport aren’t possible, and you must take a flight, fly economy class. According to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), carbon emissions are three times higher per passenger per kilometer traveled for business class and four times higher for first class. This is because there’s more space per seat, with each person accounting for a larger amount of the pollution of the plane.
- To fly or not to fly direct. Although many different variables contribute, such as the strength of the wind and the number of passengers on board, planes use significantly more fuel when taking off and landing. On a four-hour flight, the surge of engine power used to elevate the plane to the appropriate cruising altitude can account for anywhere between 10 and 20% of total fuel consumption. Simply, direct flights are more efficient, although possibly less economical, because you’re only taking off once rather than twice or more.
- Travel light. The lighter you travel, the less fuel that’s needed to transport it. Although it’s unlikely you’ll be packing a 138-liter suitcase for a 3-day business trip, be sensible with what you take with you.
- Selecting airlines. Now, the notion of an eco-friendly airline might sound contradictory, but some airlines are more environmentally-friendly than others, which could reduce your carbon footprint. The average fuel consumption per passenger is below four liters per 100km, but some companies are making an effort to improve their fuel consumption and efficiency to meet internal targets.
These eco-friendly targets can be a range of goals. They may include upgrading to a greener fleet with newer airplanes (older ones use more kerosene, a combustible hydrocarbon liquid derived from petroleum) and using more environmentally-friendly materials. You can also carry out additional research by finding which aircraft you’ll be flying on and which models are more fuel-efficient. For example, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 are leading the way in terms of fuel efficiency. If you want to go the extra mile, you can research CO2 emissions for your flight with Matrix Airfare Search by comparing similar airlines and routes to find the most eco-friendly route and airline for you.
- Carbon offsetting. You can book a flight with an airline that offsets carbon emissions. The rise of “flight shame” has put pressure on airlines to offer travelers the option to offset the carbon emissions of their flights. This involves calculating the emissions of a journey and purchasing credits from projects that focus on preventing or removing the equivalent amount of pollutants elsewhere. Many carbon offsetting programs include planting trees to help absorb carbon dioxide to remove it from the atmosphere, a key part in tackling climate change.
According to Gold Standard, the offsetting watchdog, the amount of investment from those hoping to cancel their carbon impact on the planet has risen fourfold in recent years.
Source: ABC Money