Statistics from a recent poll show 60 per cent of European travel buyers admit they do not have an ethical programme in place, with many saying travellers are driving the change to sustainable travel.

While 28 per cent of those surveyed by the Business Travel Show said they plan to introduce more sustainability in their programme, a quarter believe cost stands in the way and 8 per cent have no intention to disrupt the status quo to implement more ethical practices.

Of the 39 per cent who deem their programme to be ethically conscious, one-fifth restrict trips that are not essential and a further 21 per cent are switching journeys from air to rail. Nearly a third (30 per cent) believe air miles should be banned for encouraging unnecessary air travel.

However, only 17 per cent of those polled said they offset carbon emissions related to company flights – though 26 per cent plan to do so – and 27 per cent share information about emissions with their travellers (26 per cent of those who don’t plan to do so in the future).

Three-quarters of respondents welcomed the UK government’s Net Zero legislation, which aims for the country to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050, with 25 per cent saying it’s ‘long overdue’. However, 21 per cent said it doesn’t go far enough.

Despite increasing awareness of climate change issues, 12 per cent of buyers said they were unaware of the new net zero law. One in ten said it is unfair on airlines, while 9 per cent believe the timescale is unrealistic.

Respondents also admitted that travellers are the ones driving the push for more sustainable travel programmes (39 per cent), followed by procurement (24 per cent). Just one in ten pinned the responsibility on their company’s CSR and sustainability teams.

In the same survey, travel buyers listed sustainability as one of their top hurdles in developing their programmes for 2020, while they ranked it the number one challenge for the industry as a whole.

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK economic relations programme director, who is speaking at the Business Travel Show, commented: “The survey provides further evidence that too many businesses have their head in the sand when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint. Given what we know about climate change, there is no excuse for any company to ignore the impacts of its travel arrangements.”

Taptrip co-founder Neil Ruth added: “Climate change awareness is not just the responsibility of travellers. All humans have a responsibility to be eco-friendly and live as sustainably as possible. There’s a plethora of innovation to support this; adoption of alternatives and making smarter choices will become even more prominent. At Taptrip, we are a paper-free business, we have ditched the business cards, pool ride with each other when that’s an option and are always conscious and considerate of environmental choices. Our loyalty programme also allows for travellers to donate their rewards to a charity that offsets carbon footprint.”

The following conference sessions highlighting sustainable travel will take place at the Business Travel Show:

Tuesday, 25 February, 1350-1500: Is it time to introduce an ethical travel programme?
Mounting pressure from well-organised protest groups, investors and employees means companies need to re-think how their business travel affects the environment and human rights. But how can travel managers help their companies become more socially responsible, and can there really be such a thing as an ethical travel programme?

Wednesday, 26 February, 1000-1100: Car rental – Save money, go greener with travel purchasing’s fastest-changing category
If you haven’t updated your car hire programme recently, it’s time for another look. Telematics, car sharing, car clubs and electric vehicles are just some of the major innovations transforming pricing, operations, sustainability and duty of care priorities. Come and learn how to get maximum value out of a swiftly evolving supplier base.

Register to attend the show, taking place at Olympia London on 26-27 February at businesstravelshow.com/register

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