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Google moves on carbon emissions but corporate travel is languishing

Last week Google updated its Google Flights search engine to allow users to add carbon emissions to their search criteria. Carbon emissions are displayed along side the carrier, flight times, price and flight duration.  This allows travellers to factor in their carbon emissions when they are looking at purchasing a flight as well as price, travel times and duration.

Google’s emissions calculator comes on the back of the company adding eco-certification to their hotel search functionality last month.

Google appears to be taking travel emissions seriously, joining not-for-profit sustainability coalition Travalyst alongside high profile travel tech providers, Skyscanner, Group and Tripadvisor. The group is working to drive mass adoption of sustainability standards across the travel industry.

Corporate travel is languishing

However, despite the growing emphasis on reducing travel emissions within the leisure market, corporate travel appears to be languishing behind.

The results of a recent GBTA survey of travel managers in the US and Canada suggests only 25% have social and environmental impact in their top three priorities.

Business travel is one of the biggest contributors to an organisation’s carbon emissions. Now with the push to reopen travel corridors, the concern is that business travel will quickly slip back into its old habits.

What are the options?

So what can organisations do to reduce their carbon emissions? Well there is plenty of options available, including:

  • Measuring the carbon footprint of all business related travel (and not just air)
  • Require employees to travel less
  • Review preferred suppliers selecting those that prioritise sustainability and a reduced carbon footprint
  • Mandate or encourage the use of low emission transport options, including rail, public transport, hiring of low emission vehicles and economy over premium class air travel
  • Ensure your travel management company prioritises low carbon suppliers in their recommendations to travellers (and regularly audit this)
  • Set sustainability budgets along side financial budgets (and track compliance)
  • Incentivise employees to choose more sustainable travel options; and
  • Purchase carbon offsets.

So what is your organisation doing to reduce its carbon emissions?

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