Reduce travel emissions: developing an effective green travel policy

Electric car station

Many businesses aim to reduce carbon emissions and adopt greener practices, often due to client demands or stakeholder expectations. Crafting a green travel policy, or integrating green principles into an existing one, is part of the carbon reduction challenge and can lead to cost savings in some areas. 

  1. Merge with Expenses Policy: Integrate green requirements into the standard travel and expenses policy to avoid conflicting statements and streamline processes. Consolidating policies reduces redundancy and aligns with sustainability goals efficiently.
  2. Embrace Alternatives to Travel: Prioritize alternatives to physical travel whenever feasible. Invest in video conferencing facilities in your office to allow people to dial in to group meetings and facilitate easy remote communication. Such investments can not only cut travel expenses but also facilitate flexible working arrangements, helping to maintain an inclusive culture.
  3. Favour Trains Over Planes: Challenge the notion that air travel is always superior to train journeys. Encourage train travel, especially through off-peak bookings which can be cost-effective and less crowded. Explore loyalty schemes offered by rail companies to further incentivize train travel.
  4. Incorporate Incentives: Introduce incentives within the policy framework to promote green travel choices. Consider reimbursing cycling expenses [1], offering annual awards for policy adherence, or implementing approval requirements for domestic flights to encourage mindful decision-making.
  5. Lead by Example: Leadership commitment is pivotal for the success of a green travel policy. Ensure that management adheres to the policy and actively promotes sustainable travel practices. Consistency across all levels of the organization reinforces the importance of green initiatives.
  6. Make it Easy: Whichever your preferred method of travel is, make it easier to use that one than the others. If you want people to cycle to the office, make sure you provide secure, dry cycle parking and showers as an absolute minimum. As an extreme example, if your offices are not well suited for public transport and you’re committed to reducing travel emissions, it may be time to consider a move!
  7. Measurement and Evaluation: Monitor travel patterns and expenses to assess policy compliance and identify areas for improvement. Utilize reports from travel operators or integrate data collection into expense claims forms to track travel modes and distances. Regular evaluation enables refinement of the policy for enhanced effectiveness. This information will feed in to your carbon footprinting efforts and, depending on how much your employees travel, it may represent a large part of your direct emissions. Measure it, and use that data to help make decisions going forward. 

In conclusion, a well-executed green travel policy not only contributes to environmental sustainability but also offers cost-saving opportunities. By integrating green principles into existing policies and fostering a culture of responsible travel, businesses can achieve both ecological and financial benefits.