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Major corporations failing to address emissions from business flights

The latest Travel Smart Rankings, published today by Transport & Environment, show that 83% of global companies still don’t have plans in place to reduce their corporate flying emissions.

The Rankings assess major global corporations on their stated commitments to curtailing the emissions associated with their business flying. The new edition has examined the ambitions of 328 companies and has identified 25 who are particularly worthy of criticism.

None of the 25 companies in question have set targets to reduce flights and between them are responsible for over a third (36%) of the emissions racked up by the 328 in the report.

The report ranks the companies from A to D based on eleven indicators relating to air travel emissions, reduction targets and reporting. Scoring over 10.5 is worthy of an ‘A’ while a score of below 3 gets a ‘D’.

16 companies – five more than in 2023 – have received an ‘A’, with the top two scoring companies – both with 13.5 – being swiss financiers: Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance. From the UK, AstraZeneca, PricewaterhouseCoopers and HBSC all scored ‘A’s.

At the other end of the spectrum, the report points out the failings at consulting giants KPMG and Accenture who have not set any targets and are in danger or returning to pre-Covid levels of emissions. 

Other top flyers with no credible plans to cut down business travel emissions include Siemens whose emissions in 2019 were equivalent to the carbon footprint of close to two daily flights for a whole year from London to New York.

Denise Auclair, corporate travel manager at Transport & Environment explains: ‘Top flyers have an outsized responsibility to cut down their flying. They must urgently set targets or risk losing out to competitors. There are no excuses for not taking action. Peers in their sector have set ambitious targets, so what is stopping laggards like KPMG and Accenture from doing the same?’

Only 57 of the 328 companies have set targets to reduce business travel emissions and only 44 report the full climate impact of their travel, which includes non-CO2 emissions.

The report observes that while many companies have said they will reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, only seven companies have started doing so since last year.

Florence Long, from the Aviation Environment Federation said: ‘Years after the corporate world learnt to connect and collaborate with fewer flights, many companies are yet to lift a finger to act on the climate footprint of their business flying. It is imperative that companies set tangible goals and binding commitments to achieve lower levels of business flying. Without these concerted actions, net zero pledges will simply become empty words.’

Michael Solomon Williams, from charity Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Big business has a duty to reduce its impact on the planet. As this ranking reveals, some companies are leading the way when it comes to reducing their travel emissions whilst others are getting left behind. Rather than paying lip service to reducing their impact on the environment, companies need to set robust targets and deliver reductions for the sake of people and the planet.’

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