Business travel is a significant cause of emissions worldwide. 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have all taken place since 2001, but for many SMEs, some travel is essential for successful business development and growth. Whether it’s commuting to work, travelling for meetings, or transporting goods, analysing why, where, and how you travel for business means you can take steps to lower travel emissions while being conscious of the impact business travel has on the environment.
Let’s explore the practical steps small businesses can take to lower emissions when approaching business travel.
Businesses of all sizes are increasingly coming under fire for pumping out high carbon emissions and rightly so. You need to find ways to make travel more sustainable that work for your business. Some options to reduce overall travel emissions include:
Switching to low-emission company vehicles
If you issue company vehicles to employees, or operate a fleet of vehicles, consider switching to hybrid or fully electric models to help reduce your business's CO2 emissions. Norway is leading the world right now, with EVs constituting 22% of all new cars sold.
Avoid flying wherever possible
When it comes to emissions, flying is the least economical way to travel. Without action, international flights could produce over 20% of global CO2 emissions by 2050. Avoiding air travel as far as possible is a key step in driving down your businesses’ emissions, for example by ensuring staff always choose train or public transport ahead of a flight. If travelling by plane is unavoidable, book lower-emission or non-stop flights to reduce your travel emissions.
Use public transport
Encourage your team to travel to work more efficiently via bike, walking or public transport. For those who work on the road, aim to reduce impacts by planning your day as efficiently as possible, for example by arranging meetings in the same area on the same day. Travel to your location via public transport and use it to get around.
Work remotely & meet virtually
Since the pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal. Being able to work from anywhere reduces the need to commute and encourages people to meet online. The global expansion of virtual meetings via Zoom or Teams in recent years has brought everyone closer. Now, meetings you would usually travel to can be done via your smartphone, saving emissions and your time, not to mention the significantly reduced expense.
The most efficient way to lower your travel emissions is to not travel at all. Ambitious but unfortunately not always possible. But reducing the number of trips you make will have a huge impact too. Businesses need to ask, ‘Is this trip 100% necessary?’ Planning business travel more sustainably will bridge the gap between travel activity and accountability.
Here are a few other ways your business can seek to lower travel emissions:
Create a sustainable travel policy
A sustainable travel policy sets guidelines around how business travel should take place in a way that reduces the business's carbon footprint. Providing incentives within your policy can help with engagement too. You can take inspiration from WWF’s sustainable travel policy here.
Travelling generates greenhouse gases but it doesn’t stop when you reach your destination. The accommodation has an impact too. Choose hotels or meeting spots that prioritise being environmentally friendly, with clear and impactful sustainability commitments, and choose venues for your events that are accessible via public transport.
Work with your local community to develop green spaces, host fundraising events or join the WWF ‘Work for Good’ programme, which gives businesses options on how to donate.
When it comes to business travel, SMEs can help work towards a more sustainable future, starting by ensuring all travel is essential. But this must be part of a wider business commitment to drive down emissions across the business value chain. The more companies taking steps to reduce their footprint, - the bigger the difference we’ll make together.
Find out about going green without breaking the budget on V-Hub and learn more about our partnership with WWF here.
You can also get free guidance and support for your business by speaking to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.
The Vodafone WWF partnership supports Vodafone’s goals to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, help to eliminate e-waste, and encourage a more circular economy for mobile phones. WWF works with businesses of all sizes in many different ways. If you feel inspired to see how your business can join forces with WWF, reach out to them at email@example.com.
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