Sus­tain­abil­ity: Eco-friendly travel

[ ECO-FRIENDLY TRAVEL ]

The Business Travel Magazine - - Arrivals Contents -

Nearly seven years af­ter abol­ish­ing the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (SDC), the gov­ern­ment launched pol­icy pa­per A Green Fu­ture at the start of 2018 aimed at re­cov­er­ing lost ground on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

While the 25-year plan to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment states that “the scale of hu­man im­pact on the planet has never been greater than it is now”, it looks more to­wards strate­gies rather than be­hav­iours.

Im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency or ac­cel­er­at­ing clean tech­nolo­gies is great but as the plan says, “it is in ev­ery­one’s in­ter­est to be part of the so­lu­tion”. There is a need for a bot­tom up boost to de­liver a greener fu­ture: ev­i­dence suggests

that busi­ness trav­ellers want to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious but they also want help.

The 2018 global sus­tain­able travel re­port from Book­ing.com showed that over half of sur­veyed busi­ness trav­ellers want to go green but don’t know where to start.

The re­port also suggests that two-thirds of trav­ellers in­tend to stay in eco-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion over the next year and roughly the same pro­por­tion con­sider that their com­pa­nies should do more to pro­mote such op­tions.

So, are com­pa­nies and TMCS caught up in a tus­sle be­tween the bot­tom line and driv­ing re­spon­si­ble prac­tice? If there is an ap­petite for busi­ness trav­ellers to travel sus­tain­ably, why is the sec­tor not re­spond­ing force­fully?

It was no­table that Fe­bru­ary’s Busi­ness Travel Show in Lon­don con­tained very lit­tle on sus­tain­abil­ity. Yes, there were high level am­bi­tions tucked away in strate­gies but seem­ingly only one com­pany – Green Tomato Cars – was overtly driven

by sus­tain­abil­ity.

If gov­ern­men­tal goals are to be met, then com­pa­nies at all lev­els need to re­spond to the ris­ing tide of per­sonal en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity. Busi­ness cy­cles are short so or­gan­i­sa­tions favour quicker re­turns that are out of line with length­ier sus­tain­abil­ity time­lines. The emer­gence of Sus­tain­able Re­turn on In­vest­ment (S-ROI) is per­haps a way to align busi­ness in­vest­ment and strate­gies closer to sus­tain­abil­ity and thus pro­mote greener op­tions.

Typ­i­cally, look­ing at 10+ years, S-ROI has been ap­plied in the in­dus­trial sec­tor to good ef­fect. Em­bed­ding this men­tal­ity in busi­ness travel ser­vice pro­vi­sion could raise the at­trac­tive­ness of push­ing green in­vest­ments and en­cour­ag­ing trav­ellers to use them.

Many of the raw in­gre­di­ents for suc­cess ex­ist: re­cep­tive busi­ness trav­ellers, new eco-tech­nolo­gies, busi­ness and in­vest­ments mod­els that en­able trans­for­ma­tion.

The sec­tor needs mo­men­tum to get to the tip­ping point whereby the trav­eller’s de­sire to make the right choice is au­to­mat­i­cally en­abled.

While progress to­wards achiev­ing the gov­ern­ment’s 2050 tar­get to re­duce CO2 emis­sions to 80% of those of 1990 is gen­er­ally pos­i­tive, the cur­rent trend is for emis­sions from trans­port and build­ing stock to rise. The busi­ness travel sec­tor has a di­rect im­pact on th­ese two sources and thus has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help turn that trend back to­wards a more pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal fu­ture by mak­ing eco-choices the de­fault choices.

TMCS have a vi­tal role to play if 'green' travel sup­pli­ers are to pros­per. So far the in­dus­try has been slow to meet cus­tomer de­mand, says Roger Gardner Are com­pa­nies and TMCS caught up in a tus­sle be­tween the bot­tom line and driv­ing re­spon­si­ble prac­tice?”

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