Friday 21 February 2020

*GUEST BLOG* What is the Government’s approach to sustainability and what impact can it have on travel management?

There has been much written about national and global targets to manage carbon emissions and the best route forward to support a more sustainable future. So what is the current situation and how can businesses and travel management professionals work with TMC’s to apply these directives to achieve a more sustainable approach to travel?

Currently the UK has a target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. This was first detailed in the 2008 Climate Change Act and is often defined as achieving “net zero” greenhouse gases in the next 30 years. In short, emissions from homes, industry and transport must either be avoided completely or offset by planting trees. To continue its efforts to realise this ambition, the government has committed over £3bn to support Research & Development for low carbon projects until next year as part of the Clean Growth Strategy. This has also been supported by investment in the development of offshore wind capacity and solar power.

In more recent times there have been calls for a more practical approach that extends beyond simply planting tress - namely investment in environmental projects aimed at reducing future emissions, such as the development of clean energy technology. From a fiscal point of view it is also possible to claim capital allowances when you buy energy efficient or low carbon technology for your business, so it’s worth bearing in mind as a tax incentive.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan: progress report highlights the advances made as part of its commitment to a clear and transparent reporting of progress to Parliament. Key developments have included minimising waste and action on plastics, which is important to bear in mind for companies keen to implement their own sustainability policies and KPIs.

From April this year the Government’s new controls on plastics come into effect. This will apply to plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds. This is in addition to the EU’s own plan to place a wider ban on plastic items, including cutlery and plates, by next year. Many businesses have adopted their own policies as a result and the launch of the UK Plastics Pact in 2018 included a number of household names such as Sainsbury’s, Coca Cola, John Lewis and Unilever, all committing to delivering real change in the way plastics are produced and used.

So what does this mean for business and business travel? Such government policies and pledges can certainly act as signposts to inform how to implement sustainability policies – both from an operational as well as a travel point of view. The key is to stay informed. If you are looking to invest in a carbon off-setting scheme do your due diligence into its operations and deliverables, ask your supply chain what steps they are taking to reduce their impact on the environment and inform your travellers of the options available for a more sustainable trip so they can feel confident in the travel choices being made. And all that starts with an effective travel policy that balances the scales of environmental consciousness and the commercial needs of an organisation, without overlooking traveller wellbeing.

Such approach to your travel policy can take many forms: favouring the use of public transport rather than private transfers, only permitting hire of electric vehicles or considering mixed mode itineraries, can prove fruitful to companies’ endeavouring towards a more sustainable operation.

Blog post written by Direct ATPI. Register for FREE and visit them at stand B440 -


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