Study finds too few Scottish businesses commit to reducing business flights

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Royal Bank of Scotland, ScottishPower and SSE are doing too little to cut emissions from business travel, according to a new ranking of corporate leaflets published by the European Federation for Transport and the Environment (T&E).

A new ranking of business air travel reveals that work is underway to reduce corporate emissions, but further action is needed.

Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, is the only Scottish company to achieve the highest possible rating for its business travel emissions reduction plans. Lloyds previously pledged to cut business travel by 50% by 2021.

The research scores 230 U.S. and European companies on nine indicators, related to emissions reduction targets, reporting and air travel emissions.

The analysis, which includes four Scottish companies – and 39 companies in total from the UK – highlights the significant efforts that some Scottish companies still need to make to reduce their business travel emissions.

Only one company gets an “A”, while the other three get a “C” or a “D”.



RBS has set a company-wide emissions reduction target, but has not yet committed to reducing emissions from corporate jet travel by a certain date.

Energy giant SSE receives the lowest score because it makes no specific effort to reduce emissions from business travel, nor does it disclose its emissions from air travel.

Marie Ferdelman, policy manager at Transform Scotland, the national alliance for sustainable transport, said: “The pandemic has proven that businesses can be as efficient and even more efficient by flying less, and some businesses, including Bank of Scotland , show that reducing emissions from business flight is entirely possible.

“Reducing business travel makes financial sense for businesses. The Scots are crying out to reduce our dependence on oil, and traveling smarter is an easy way to do that.

A company with an A score has an absolute reduction commitment for air travel, some of which have committed to a reduction target of 50% or more by 2025. These companies have been reporting their commercial or air emissions for more than ‘a year. Only eight companies (3%) in the ranking achieved this score.

Of the 230 companies, 193 have not acted with enough speed and ambition to tackle emissions from business travel. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are in the lowest category of the ranking – and T&E has warned that they must accelerate their transition to sustainable travel.

T&E’s Climate Neutral Aviation Roadmap for the EU has shown that reducing business travel is the most effective way to reduce aviation emissions in the short term, where it matters most for the climate.

By halving business travel, emissions could be reduced by 32.6 MtCO2 by 2030 in the EU, equivalent to removing 16 million polluting cars from the road.

Matt Finch, UK Director of T&E, added: “Travelling smart is about being as productive as possible and making every meeting count.

“Although not all business travel can be avoided, the train is a fast and environmentally friendly alternative to domestic flights and allows you to continue working on the road.

“Many Scottish companies have already announced targets to halve corporate flying, but we would like to see a lot more commitment to flying less and taking more trains, not just for the good of the planet, it’s is also better for business.”

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