CO2 emissions from air travel are growing exponentially. Despite more efficient airplanes and the careful introduction of biofuels, the airline industry releases an increasing amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases each year. The cause is the strong growth in the worldwide demand for air travel. To limit the damage caused by climate change, it was agreed in Paris to hold the global temperature rise to a maximum of 2°C. This means that the airline industry needs to reduce its CO2 emissions in 2050 to 50% of 2000 emissions. Without extra measures being taken, CO2 emissions from air travel will actually triple compared to todays values. The airline sector is working on an ambitious programme to achieve the needed reduction, but the question remains if they will be able to do so. They are working on technical innovations and climate offsetting, but will never address limiting the demand for air travel, despite the fact that is precisely here that the opportunities for reducing the  impact on the climate lie.

Companies, as big consumers of air travel, can help reduce the impact of air travel on the climate by travelling less, travelling smarter or travelling greener. This is not only needed for the climate, but it also provides a chance to improve employees’ work-life balance and save costs and time for their own organizations. In short, companies can find a better balance between People, Planet and Profit by making smart choices.

Despite this, in our conversations with companies in recent years, we have not gotten the impression that making business travel more sustainable is high on the agenda. It is an indirect, or Scope 3, emission that is often not reported. This means that its impact on the climate stays out of the picture. And companies often do not know what they can do about it. “Sure, don’t fly is better, but we need to do it for our business operation.”

But there are also front runners in the market. Companies that have measured the climate impact of their business travel and who have taken measures to limit it in their travel policy. We interviewed 18 of these internationally operating companies about what they do to make business travel more sustainable. What are their goals, what measures have they taken and what difficulties have they faced? We have translated their answers into 10 Success Factors for a Sustainable Travel Policy in order to inspire and stimulate other companies!


Nishanthi Lambrichs
| Carbon Advisor

Nishanthi assists South African businesses and organisations in measuring, reducing and offsetting the carbon emissions of their business flights.