ING, Heineken and Shell score poorly in a new ranking of business travel

A new Transport & Environment ranking for business flights shows that companies are working to reduce their emissions, but more action is needed. No Dutch company gets the highest score on the rankings, and only ABN Amro Holding gets the second highest score because it commits to reducing its emissions from business travel. The Dutch finance company has promised to reduce its business travel by 50% by 2026 and announced its emissions from business flights (it emitted 7,535 Mt CO2 in 2019).

The ranking, which came as part of T & E’s new Travel Smart campaign, ranks 231 US and European companies based on 8 indicators related to emission reduction targets, reporting and emissions from business flights. The analysis, which includes 13 Dutch companies, makes it clear that some companies still need to make significant efforts to reduce emissions from their business travel. Only one company gets a B-score, while twelve do not meet sufficient criteria and lag behind in terms of goals or reporting of business flights.

ING Group, Heineken, Airbus and similar companies have all set broad targets for emission reductions, but there is still a lack of commitment to reduce emissions from business flights. Business flights accounted for 30% of total emissions from the aviation sector in 2019. Airbus is the largest emitter of the three with 79,268 MtCO2 in 2019 for business travel. Three Dutch companies – Shell, Prosus, Exor – get the lowest scores as they make no effort to reduce their emissions from business travel, nor do they publish their travel emissions.

Denise Auclair, Campaign Manager for Business Travel at T&E, says: “The pandemic has proven that companies can be just as efficient and even more efficient by flying less while reducing their emissions. While some companies in Europe are showing that it is possible to reduce emissions from business flights, others are lagging behind like ING Group and Heineken. “Reducing business travel makes economic sense for businesses and also protects employee well-being. While executives and citizens call for reducing our dependence on oil, smarter travel is an easy way to do that.”

A company with an A rating has an absolute reduction target for air travel, with some aiming for a reduction of 50% or more by 2025. These companies have been reporting their emissions from business flights or travel for more than a year. The companies meet the highest standard of business travel and are an example for other companies. Eight companies (3%), but none from the Netherlands, achieve this score in the new T&E ranking.

The Travel Smart rankings show that many companies are not yet committed to reducing emissions from their business travel. Out of 230 companies, 193 failed to act quickly and ambitiously enough to handle their emissions from business travel. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are in the lowest row of the rankings and need to upgrade to become smart travelers, says T&E.

Transport & Environment and a coalition of 12 partners have launched the Travel Smart campaign and a new business location at a crucial time for the travel industry as business flights resurface after the pandemic. In 2019, business travel accounted for about 15 to 20% of air traffic, or about 154 million MtCO2. But the industry was shocked by the coronavirus pandemic, and business travel spending fell by 52% in 2020, from $ 1.4 trillion in 2019 to $ 694 billion in 2020.

Companies now have a unique opportunity to take the lead by innovating with new approaches, setting new targets for reducing emissions from aviation and capturing the lower emissions habits they have acquired during the pandemic. T & E’s Roadmap to Climate Neutral Aviation already showed that reducing business travel was the most effective way to reduce short-term aviation emissions, which is most important for the climate. Reducing business travel by 50% will reduce emissions by 32.6 MtCO2 by 2030 in Europe[3]† That equates to taking 16 million polluting cars off the road.

T & E’s new Travel Smart campaign asks companies to:

  • Publicly commit to an absolute goal of flying at least 50% less than in 2019, by 2025 or earlier;
  • Implement less flight and choose other modes of connection and transportation;
  • Report their progress towards reduced emissions.

“Smart travel means that every meeting counts. Not all business flights can be avoided, but in many cases, virtual meetings are an effective alternative. We’ve been doing this for two years, why stop now? Many European companies have already announced targets for reducing their business flights by 50%. It is clear where Dutch companies need to go to go even further, fly less and achieve more. ”– Denise Auclair

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