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What can we do as a business?

Choices made by individuals and businesses to fly less can open up conversations about flying and its alternatives, as well as demonstrate public appetite for political and policy action. Some early research has identified a ripple effect, whereby knowing someone who has given up flying because of climate change can significantly influence others to cut back on their own flights.

Our advice in this section focuses on helping individuals and businesses to make informed decisions about flying based on its impact on climate change (click here for What can I do as a leisure traveller?). Choosing to take fewer flights will also help reduce aircraft noise. For information about aviation’s key environmental impacts, have a look at our ‘What we work on’ section.

AEF continues to focus on policy level change to tackle aviation’s environmental impacts for the long term, but we’re keen to find ways in which this work can be complemented by voluntary commitments by individuals and companies.

Extra costs compared to flying can sometimes be offset by travelling on an overnight train and avoiding hotel costs

Businesses can take steps to cut aviation emissions as part of a sustainable travel plan. Connecting in other ways beyond flying could save money and time.

  • Make sure you have a travel policy that reflects the wider values of your business. If you’re committed to climate action, ensure that it is written in to the detail of how your company operates. 
  • Monitor your company’s carbon footprint from flying and other travel. Alongside online carbon calculators, the Government publishes, and regularly updates, data for use by businesses in calculating their carbon footprint, including the emissions per km from a range of transport modes. (This has been used in the table below.)
BEIS figures for 2019 use a CO2 multiplier of 1.9 to calculate non-CO2 impacts. Lee et al (2020) have calculated aviation’s total warming impact to date is three times that associated with its CO2 emissions alone. Short- and long-haul aviation data is based on average passenger emissions across multiple seating classes.
  • Showcase your senior staff doing the right thing. Sometimes there’s a perception that being on frequent business trips indicates high status; let your staff know you’re deciding to do things differently. 
  • Think about whether it’s essential to travel. Could you join the meeting by conference or video call (an experience that most of us have become very comfortable with after working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic)? Is there someone who lives nearby and could represent your company?
  • If you have to go, could you get there by rail? Any extra costs compared to flying can sometimes be offset by travelling on an overnight train and avoiding the cost of a hotel room.
  • If you do fly (i) travel economy (a business class seat has around three times the CO2 impact compared to economy, as a result of the extra space and weight it occupies) and (ii) try to choose the most efficient airline for that route. If this information is not easy to find, ask airlines to provide it. The more evidence there is that customers want this information, the easier it will be to persuade airlines, and regulators, that they need to make it publicly accessible.
  • Don’t encourage extra flying by letting your staff keep air miles. Find other ways to provide rewards, such as Climate Perks which encourages companies to give extra leave if staff take their holidays without flying.