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How to guide: Reducing Scope 3 emissions from business travel

In today’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape, sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a crucial element of corporate strategy.

Business travel plays a valuable role in fostering company growth, nurturing corporate relationships, and seizing new opportunities. Recognising its significance to organisational success, the approach to reducing Scope 3 emissions is not about limiting travel demands, but instead optimising them through strategic and sustainable practices. By embracing more environmentally responsible choices, you can minimise emissions while maintaining the essential momentum of your business operations.

For Travel Program Managers and ESG specialists, reducing the carbon footprint of business travel is both a challenge and an opportunity. This blog outlines a simple five-step plan to help organisations minimise their business travel-related emissions.


Five-step plan overview

  1. Understand your impact: Assess your scope 3 emissions and the role of business travel.
  2. Leverage technology and data: Improve data collection accuracy and track efforts effectively.
  3. Optimise travel policies: Evaluate and adjust your policies to promote sustainable travel choices
  4. Engage employees: Educate and empower employees to make eco-friendly decisions.
  5. Choose the right TMC: Align with a TMC that supports your sustainability goals.


1. Understand your impact

The first step in reducing business travel emissions is to understand their impact within your business’s overall carbon footprint, specifically within your scope 3 emissions. Business travel falls under Scope 3 emissions because it involves activities that are not owned or directly controlled by the company but have an impact on the company’s carbon footprint. It can include emissions from flights, hotel stays, rental cars and other travel-related activities that employees undertake on behalf of the company.

Measuring Scope 3 emissions can provide value to your business beyond Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction. It can help identify energy efficiency and cost reduction opportunities, engage employees in the company’s sustainability journey, and enhance relationships with customers, investors, and other stakeholders. Additionally, it can help you stay ahead of future regulations and compliance requirements and differentiate your business from competitors.


2. Leverage your technology and data

Harnessing the power of technology and data is essential for improving the accuracy and efficiency of emission tracking and reduction efforts. Implementing automated data collection systems, such as integrated travel management technology and corporate travel apps, ensures that all travel data is captured, reducing manual entry errors and data gaps. Travel reporting and data solutions can also capture additional details like the form of travel and distances covered, which are crucial for accurate emissions calculations.

Advanced data analytics play a pivotal role in moving from rough estimates to accurate figures. Detailed data segmentation allows for more accurate emission factors to be applied, reflecting the specific nature of each journey. Machine learning algorithms can analyse historical travel data and predict future travel patterns, helping identify trends, peak travel periods, and potential areas for emission reductions. A sophisticated proprietary fuel burn calculator developed by RDC Aviation incorporates real-time data and the latest emission factors to provide a comprehensive view of flight emissions. This level of detail empowers business travellers to make informed decisions about their environmental impact when choosing which flight to take. By considering factors such as airline-specific seat configurations, cabin class, and CO2 emissions per kilometre, businesses and their travellers can optimise their travel choices to minimise their carbon footprint.

Regular monitoring and reporting on the progress of emission reduction initiatives are vital for continuous improvement. Implementing dashboards that provide insights into business travel emissions and automated reporting systems that compile and disseminate reports at regular intervals streamline these processes. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and using benchmarking tools to compare performance against industry standards helps in identifying areas for improvement and setting realistic goals.

It will be important to ensure your TMC can support your sustainability goals by providing the right travel tools and expertise to provide the information you need to make strategic change and more informed choices.


3. Optimise your travel policy

A well-crafted travel policy can significantly contribute to reducing your carbon footprint, so it is important to evaluate and adjust your policies to promote sustainable travel choices. There are several ways to do this; when considering sustainable travel suppliers, opt for those known for their commitment to sustainability and lean on your travel management company (TMC) for expertise around this.

Set policy parameters around the class of travel (Economy, Premium, Business) to ensure it aligns with your emission reduction goals. Setting parameters will help guide travel bookers and travellers in making the most sustainable choices for your company’s emission reduction goals.

Prioritise rail travel over air travel whenever feasible, as it typically has a lower carbon footprint. For example, calculations as part of the ‘green travel pledge’ led by the Rail Delivery Group demonstrate that travelling by rail from London to Edinburgh creates 10 times less carbon emissions than by car and 13 times less than by flying. There is also the opportunity to encourage the use of electric vehicles when car rental is required to further minimise emissions.


4. Employee engagement and education

There has never been a better time to encourage sustainable travel behaviour. We know that business travel is vital to organisational growth so educating employees about the company’s sustainability goals will be important to help reduce emissions through more sustainable travel choices.

Cultivating a culture that prioritises sustainability can influence employees to adopt practices that reduce their individual and collective carbon footprint. Your employees play a critical role in achieving your sustainability goals; empowering and educating them to make more sustainable travel choices through the use of intuitive tools and resources is essential.

To support this, collaborate with your TMC to schedule regular updates and training sessions. These sessions could focus on how travel technology and tools can help achieve sustainability goals, ensuring that employees are well-informed about the options available to them. It could also include travel supplier-focused updates such as new sustainable initiatives by hotels or SAF adoption by airlines for example.

By fostering a culture of sustainability and equipping employees with the right knowledge and resources, you can drive significant progress towards your organisation’s environmental objectives.


5. Selecting the right travel management company

Partnering with a TMC that aligns with your sustainability objectives can make a substantial difference in your efforts to reduce travel emissions. Here are some tips on what to look for:

  • Sustainable solutions & service capabilities: The right TMC will offer innovative solutions tailored to your organisation’s unique needs and sustainability objectives. This can include technology that encourages sustainable booking behaviours, reporting that accurately presents sustainability performance and identifies opportunities for improvement, and supplier contracting that aligns with your sustainability goals and values.
  • Agnostic technology: Look for TMCs that utilise technology capable of integrating with various systems to provide accurate data and reporting.
  • Market agility: A TMC with the ability to quickly adapt to market changes can provide better support to achieve both short- and long-term sustainability objectives.
  • Return on investment: Evaluate the performance of your travel program by considering the environmental benefits of working with a TMC that’s an expert in sustainability.


It’s time to make strides in reducing carbon emissions

By adopting this five-step plan, Travel Program Managers and ESG specialists can make significant strides in reducing the carbon emissions associated with business travel.

Contact CTM today to learn how we can assist you in developing and implementing a tailored sustainable travel program that meets your organisation’s unique needs. Together, we can drive meaningful change towards a sustainable future.


Contact CTM today to develop a tailored sustainable travel program!

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