Employee travel is one of the greatest contributors to corporate carbon emissions, yet research shows most firms aren’t taking real action to make such programs any greener. (World Economic Forum)
During the pandemic, carbon emissions dropped by 7% and scientists say a lot of that was due to the drop in business travel.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations are creating pressure for companies to track, measure, and report ESG metrics and governments (like the European Union) are moving toward taxing businesses based on the carbon they create locally and throughout the manufacture and delivery of products no matter the country source.
Though companies are planning for these new costs, a study (https://www.emburse.com/assets/pdfs/gbta-emburse-infographic.pdf) by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) showed that the majority of companies want to reduce travel-related carbon pollution, the report also notes that most firms aren’t (65%) actually taking any action to reduce travel or make travel greener. There may still be a reduction in carbon emissions but that may be more of a side effect of the predicted economic downturn, ever-present COVID concerns, and the new distributed/hybrid work reality.
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It’s not just regulators and investors that want to see carbon reductions, customers and employees are also putting pressure on organizations to reduce their carbon footprint.
In November of 2021, the events and meeting industry made a pledge at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to do their part in combating climate change. Unfortunately for the environment, people from around the world flew to Scotland (many in private jets which create 14 times the amount of high-altitude carbon as a commercial flight) to address “one of the most critical issues of our times.”
The events industry pledged to get to 0 emissions by 2050 with some milestone goals of reduction along the way. Engagez, as a digital engagement platform provider, joined the Joint Meetings Industry Council’s Net Zero Carbon Events program and pledged zero emission in 2023. Although virtual events are not 100% carbon-free yet, they will be there decades quicker than physical events.
Engagez believes that operating a business or event sustainably ultimately will provide some competitive advantages and that carrot, combined with the inevitable financial stick, will cause organizations to re-look at their business travel and take more deliberate action. Diagnosing what is truly required travel and developing better ways of providing the value of physical meetings and events will deliver better financial outcomes and positive social and environmental impact.