Despite a global “awakening” to the issue of climate change, corporate travel programmes have yet to convert sustainability into employee education and practices, according to new research.

A survey conducted by SAP Concur in partnership with the GBTA reveals that less than a third of European travel managers are currently incorporating sustainable suppliers into their policy. Only 4 per cent mandate travellers to select such suppliers, and 27 per cent encourage travellers to book with them.

However, travel managers overall recognise that the impact of business trips on the environment should be considered, with 70 per cent saying it is important to empower travellers to make sustainable choices.

An overwhelming 85 per cent of those surveyed want to receive reports to calculate carbon emissions in an effort to help travellers make more sustainable choices, while 78 per cent think it is important to encourage such decisions. Seventy-two per cent want to be able to provide employees with more environmentally friendly options in the booking process.

More promising is the fact that 62 per cent of travel managers plan to mandate or encourage travellers to book with suppliers using sustainable practices in the next one to two years – double the number currently doing this.

Fifty-seven per cent said they have been pressured by their travellers to implement more sustainable travel practices, while the same amount have received requests from senior leadership.

Pierre-Emmanuel Tetaz, SVP and GM – EMEA at SAP Concur, commented: “The power to make real, tangible changes lies with big businesses, so it’s really encouraging to see this thinking is shared by travel managers across Europe. Really, what we need to see is this positively translated into employee education and T&E business practices, and the survey seems to be nodding in the right direction, which is fantastic.

“Business travel is a core part of all global business, so it’s crucial we find a way to mitigate the damage it causes the environment. Global travel has now reached US$1.6 trillion and produces one in seven jobs throughout the world, so it’s incredibly important. We’re very fortunate to be in a position where technological developments are helping us solve problems like these, so it’s about how we use and apply this tech to help reduce the damage done.”

Encouragingly, respondents said they are getting help from their partners to implement sustainability; 80 per cent said their TMC provides service options to measure and track sustainability and 63 per cent said the same about their travel suppliers. Two in five said their booking tool or engine provides such a service.

The news comes after delegates at the inaugural Corporate Travel Climate Action Summit heard that buyers play a key role in helping airlines scale up the use of sustainable aviation fuel.;

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