Research reveals too few Scottish firms pledge to reduce business flying

Royal Bank of Scotland, ScottishPower and SSE are doing too little to reduce business travel emissions, according to a new ranking of corporate flyers published by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E).

A new ranking of corporate air travel reveals that work is underway to reduce emissions by businesses, but more action is needed.

Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, is the only Scottish company that achieves the highest possible grade for its corporate travel emissions reduction plans. Lloyds previously pledged to reduce business travel by 50% by 2021.

The research grades 230 US and European companies according to nine indicators, relating to emissions reduction targets, reporting and air travel emissions.

The analysis, which includes four Scottish corporations – and 39 companies in total from the UK – sheds light on the significant efforts certain Scottish businesses have yet to make to reduce their corporate travel emissions.

Only one company gets an “A”, whilst the three others achieve a “C” or “D”.



RBS has made a company-wide emissions reductions target, but no commitment, yet, to reduce corporate air travel emissions by a certain date.

Energy giant SSE receives the lowest score, as it makes no specific effort to reduce business travel emissions, nor disclose its air travel emissions.

Marie Ferdelman, policy officer at Transform Scotland, the national alliance for sustainable transport, said: “The pandemic proved that businesses can be as effective and even more efficient by flying less, and some companies, notably the Bank of Scotland, are showing that reducing emissions from business flying is entirely possible.

“Cutting down on business travel makes financial sense for companies. Scots are crying out to reduce our dependence on oil, and smarter traveling is an easy way to do so. ”

A company with an A score has an absolute reduction commitment for air travel, some of which have committed to a 50% or higher reduction target by 2025. These companies have been reporting their business or air travel emissions for more than a year. Only eight companies (3%) in the ranking reached that score.

Out of the 230 companies, 193 failed to act with sufficient speed and ambition to tackle corporate travel emissions. Businesses like Google, Facebook and Microsoft lie in the ranking’s lowest category – and T&E warned that they must accelerate their transition travel sustainability.

T & E’s roadmap to climate neutral aviation for the EU showed that a reduction in corporate travel was the single most effective way to reduce aviation emissions in the short term, where it counts most for the climate.

By halving corporate travel, emissions could be cut by 32.6 MtCO2 by 2030 in the EU, which is the same as taking 16 million polluting cars off the road.

Matt Finch, UK director at T&E, added: “Traveling smart is about being as productive as possible and making every single meeting count.

“While not all business travel can be avoided, rail is a quick and green alternative to domestic flights and allows you to carry on working on route.

“Many Scottish companies have already announced targets to cut corporate flying by half but we’d like to see far more commitment to flying less and taking the train more, not just for the sake of the planet, it’s better for business too.”

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