Sus­tain­abil­ity: Cli­mate change

Roger Gard­ner, [ CLI­MATE CHANGE ]

The Business Travel Magazine - - Contents -

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”

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