Sustainability: Climate change
Roger Gardner, [ CLIMATE CHANGE ]
The wonderful weather that we have experienced this summer serves to show that we are living close to the edge on sustainability.
We may be tempted to believe that it is just good fortune to tie in with the peak of the big sporting events. However, the evidence suggests that there are links with climate change and that all sectors need to redouble their efforts to curb emissions.
El Niño events are more variable and more intense in the last few decades than over the norm established over several thousand years. The suggestion is that these events are becoming more intense as a result of climate change and looking at a 100-year graph of extreme weather – flood, storm and drought – shows a massive increase in such incidents. The blessing and the curse of climate change is that it happens relatively slowly, so it is always possible set goals for action that are years if not decades away. But we should take note that melting roads, buckled rails and sweltering trains and cars are signs that a warming world affects the business travel sector as much as any other. Add to that the incidents of high pollution levels in cities and it is easy to see that the world is being too complacent about how our actions affect our environment. In a couple of months time when autumn is here, we might be forgiven for thinking that there is no apparent urgency. On the contrary, a sector that relies upon moving people from A to B and accommodating them whilst on the move, has to take note and push sustainability up the boardroom agenda. The sector’s activities are inherently carbonintensive. Recent business travel shows and conferences that I have attended still give little profile to sustainability. Sadly, it does not seem to be regarded as a marketing differentiator of sufficient value to be worth sticking your neck out for. Perhaps it's important then to note that last year’s provisional UK greenhouse gas emissions published in March suggest that transport emissions are broadly the same now as they were almost ten years ago. Over the same timeframe, nearly all other sectors have nearly halved their CO2 emissions.
It is reasonable to assume that transport will continue to buck that trend and that aviation, a key part of the business travel sector, will be the hardest and most complex of all to decarbonize.
As a sector, business travel does not want to be in the dock in the years ahead as an environmental laggard.
It is interesting that in the world of civil aviation, all parts of the sector have come together to form Sustainable Aviation, an initiative that analyses and projects sector performance and looks at how it can take on collective sustainability initiatives in addition to that of individual companies.
Roadmaps for CO2 control have been established that provide a strong focus for action and encourage aviation to drive harder to reduce CO2.
The business travel sector could usefully establish something similar, driven by the TMCS, involving providers across the sector as members and sharpening the collective resolve. As sustainability does not seem to be picked up a competitive market differentiator, all players should join together to establish sector-wide goals and roadmaps for carbon reduction.
It would be heartening if TMC senior management could rise to this challenge and ponder ways to mobilise the whole business travel sector while the summer weather continues to remind us of the dangers of inaction.
The sizzling summer is a reminder of the effects of climate change, says who urges the business travel sector to take action on carbon emissions As a sector, business travel does not want to be in the dock in the years ahead as an environmental laggard”