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Capgemini, Marks & Spencer, Vodafone UK and two other organizations this week announced their commitment to cut 20 percent of flights by 2014 as part of the World Wide Fund for Nature's One in Five Challenge.
The program includes independent audits and "encourages businesses to seek greener alternatives to flying, from videoconferencing to train travel; sets yearly flight-reduction targets; and helps companies to get their staff engaged with the project. And by providing a clear annual evaluation of the money and carbon saved by taking part in the One in Five Challenge, the program also hopes to demonstrate that companies can remain competitive while cutting their carbon emissions."
"There is a very real appetite among big businesses to reduce the number of flights they take," according to WWF-UK chief executive David Nussbaum. "In a World Wide Fund survey, 89 percent of FTSE 350 companies stated they expect to cut business flights significantly in the coming decade, and today's launch confirms that the U.K.'s more forward-thinking companies are already taking the first steps to turn those good intentions into a reality."
Cutting the carbon impact of business travel is a "key commitment" for U.K.-based retailer Marks & Spencer. "We believe that the One in Five campaign enables us to set targets within our business that will not only reduce our footprint, but will help us to save money," according to head of sustainable business Mike Barry.
In Marks & Spencer's 2009 How We Do Business report, the company admitted it was "behind plan" on cutting greenhouse gases from business travel. "During 2008 we refined our 'green' business travel policy (launched in 2007) to reflect industry best practices on reducing CO2 emissions. In 2008/09 our business travel emissions were around 11,000 metric tons of CO2, up 22 percent on two years ago due to increased international air travel. Emissions from U.K. business travel have remained unchanged."
The company intends to make all United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland operations carbon neutral by 2012, including business travel.
In its 2008 Carbon Disclosure Project submission, Capgemini indicated that its travel produced more than 138,000 metric tons of CO2. Heavily dependent thus far on assumptions and averages, "the process to report business travel is constantly being improved. This year we have been working more closely with our external travel companies in order to provide more accurate travel information and report more confidently on our emissions," the company wrote. "Group policy is to reduce the environmental impact of business travel as far as possible by facilitating video/telephone conferencing, virtual working and encouraging employees to consider different modes of travel--taking into account environmental and social aspects."
WWF's challenge "perfectly complements our target to reduce carbon from business travel by 30 percent by 2014 and also provides a powerful way of engaging with our people and our customers," according to James Robey, Capgemini U.K. head of corporate sustainability.
Five In Many
The five organizations that announced their commitment this week to the WWF initiative--which also included Premiere Global and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency--represent just a portion of the companies that continue to grow their commitments to tracking business travel's environmental impact. One pioneer is HSBC, which this year plans to cut its "CO2 emissions per full-time equivalent from group business air travel by 10 percent," according to the bank's recently released 2008 Sustainability Report.
Carbon neutral since 2005, HSBCcut business travel emissions to 166,000 metric tons in 2008, from 179,000 in both 2007 and 2006. "Travel-related emissions accounted for 21 percent of the group's total carbon dioxide footprint in 2008, of which 64 percent comes from air travel," HSBC wrote. "Emissions from travel decreased by 7 percent in 2008. We agreed [to] new three-year targets for business air travel for the group, which will start in 2009. The initial aim is a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide per full-time employee from combined long- and short-haul ?ights (based on a 2008 baseline), with a further 5 percent reduction for each year in 2010 and 2011."
Motorola calculated the impact from business travel for the first time in 2008 and found that it produced 136,866 metric tons of CO2. "We hope to achieve reductions against this baseline in the future," according to the company's sustainability report. "Our travel policy requires that employees minimize travel by utilizing audioconferencing, Web meetings and videoconferencing, where available."
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