Why Sustainability (and Flexibility) Matters to Businesses in 2023

If there is one clear way forward from COP 26, the international summit on climate change in Glasgow in 2021, it is that we stand at a crossroads. Attended by country and business leaders and representatives of dozens of multinational corporations, the event was originally seen as our last chance for a greener future.

While some feel that commitments may fall a little short on the final day of COP 26, the bottom line is that we are closer than ever to the end of the fossil fuel era. We find ourselves at the start of an exciting new phase in which we will see governments and corporations working together to eradicate man-made climate change.

Recently, James Dent, TravelPerk’s ESG and Sustainability Analyst, sat down with Fabio Griemens, Director of Strategy and Operations to discuss why, in the face of increasing consumer demand and greater corporate responsibility, sustainability will be bigger than ever. for business in 2023.

You can watch the full webinar or read the key points here.

Accelerated awareness enhances corporate transparency

While COP26 displayed an unprecedented sense of urgency, it was not the first time world leaders had come together to agree on emissions targets. In the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, countries acknowledged that climate change is man-made, and corporate responsibility came up the agenda. Since then, other initiatives such as the United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and third-party certifications such as B Corporations hold businesses accountable for sustainable business practices. They, by default, favor renewable energy and oblige them to disclose their current environmental impact and future reduction targets.

CDP, the nonprofit organization that provides frameworks for companies, investors and governments to disclose environmental impacts, reports that corporate disclosures are doubling year on year with more ambitious emissions targets. If current targets are reached by 2050, $14 trillion worth of goods and services will be sold, with zero impact on the environment, according to Reuters. Additionally, companies now firmly recognize that ambitious corporate social responsibility policies are not only essential for the planet but also have the ability to attract and retain top talent, like-minded investors and new customers. In short, a strong net-zero strategy improves a company’s profile and gives them a competitive advantage.

Data is key to creating sustainable travel policies

Taxi driving through the jungle

When determining a sustainable business model and travel policy, travel managers need to go beyond the commitments made by their providers, consider the entire supply chain and calculate emissions using a reputable ‘carbon calculator’. Executives of companies that frequently fly the same route should compare C02 emissions and energy efficiency between direct and indirect flights. Other factors would be the type of aircraft and the airline company’s own green policies

But no matter how much we adjust these variables, there will always be a point when the reductions will ‘flat line’ – after all, it’s impossible to travel efficiently without leaving some carbon footprint.

At this point, companies ambitious in their sustainability efforts can choose to offset their ‘residual’ emissions through carbon offsetting travel programs like GreenPerk. For an additional fee of around €10, Green Perk will invest in a variety of sustainable carbon offsetting projects around the world, from building a household biogas plant in rural Nepal to a solar home system project in Ethiopia.

GreenPerk lets you offset emissions for anything you book on the TravelPerk platform, so any flights, hotels, trains and rental cars you book can be carbon-neutral, too. Currently, criteria for calculating the carbon footprint of hotel accommodation lack globally agreed methods. Large hotel chains can make sustainability strategies public; Others can estimate the location and star rating. In these situations, programs like GreenPerk can give travel managers a clean, informed, and effective tool for generating data-driven reports.

What travelers want

40 billion tons of carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere every year. In Europe, 27% of this amount comes from land transport. “We are part of the problem, but also part of the solution,” says Fabio Grimes of mobility service provider Free Now for Business, an on-demand taxi service for the corporate sector.

With a predicted ten billion people inhabiting the planet by 2050, access to clean, reliable, and affordable mobility is one of our most urgent priorities. Major cities worldwide are investing in smart, green and integrated public transport systems, improving the quality of life for residents and travelers alike. According to Grimmence, 30% of travel managers and buyers value sustainability over cost when choosing travel suppliers, and 67% consider sustainability policies and performance when selecting travel suppliers.

More and more people are holding suppliers accountable, and sustainability has taken a giant leap forward in influencing travel shoppers.

Fabio Grimmence, Freinau

on the ground

While the rise of air travel has grabbed most of the media headlines of late, let’s think about how ground travel has also had to adjust during the pandemic and the challenges ahead as people return to the office and resume face-to-face schedules. – Face-to-face meetings.

Flexibility is a key trend. Business travelers today want ground transportation services that are fast, on-demand and can respond to last-minute changes. They need to realize the duty of care with hand sanitizer and passenger-driver distance. For practical or personal reasons, business travelers may prefer a hybrid of ground transportation options, combining public transportation with a private taxi, bicycle share with car share, or e-bike with e-scooter, when visiting a foreign city or commuting to work. .

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our perception of choice. Our research says that 40% of respondents would like to use something like bikes and e-scooters or car-sharing to commute to work and travel abroad as they prefer.

Fabio Grimmence, Freinau

Safe, durable… and flexible

So how can travel managers assure they are ticking all the right boxes?

As we’ve already mentioned, businesses with net-zero ambitions should invest in a carbon calculator that analyzes business travel and commuting data to find out how much carbon dioxide they’re producing, where it can be reduced. For complete transparency, data and reports should be made available to all employees and stakeholders.

Frequent PCR tests, covid passports, masks and distance on ships probably make the travel ecosystem safer than airborne diseases. But still, travel managers are advised to work with partners fully committed to prioritizing safety and sustainability.

They should look for ground transport providers that can provide full C02 tracking, have an electric fleet of at least 60% vehicles and have a growing train inventory. Of course, expectations should be kept realistic. Destinations in developing countries are less likely to have developed green transportation systems, in which case alternative methods such as scooter taxis may be explored.

Electric car charging

human power

Going forward, companies should start investigating and investing in flexible, proprietary and green transportation packages for their employees.

Commuting has a real impact on our well-being and performance capabilities. Hybrid remote/in-office work schedules are the new normal, and companies must reflect this reality in their company transportation policies.

Research conducted by FREE NOW concluded that 4 out of 5 workers were dissatisfied with spending an hour or more on their daily commute, and a large majority wished for more car share and blended mobility options from their company’s travel policies.

In response, Now Free has launched a pilot scheme that puts mobility choices in the hands of workers They were provided with their own mobility budget, so could make their own choices about how to move around during company time. With increased flexibility, choice and a sense of empowerment, the scheme showed a 44% increase in employee motivation. “These days, employers are expected To invest in employee mobility,” Grimmence sums up. “And it provides the perfect opportunity for companies to steer them in a sustainable and green direction.”

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