Environmental concerns fail to influence business travel plans, discovers UK survey
Fri 12 Sept 2008 – While many companies may have an environmental policy in place for staff travel, fewer than 1% of business travellers reduced the number of trips in 2007, reports Barclaycard Business in the final edition of its annual Travel Survey. Despite the green aspirations of many of today’s businesses, 78% of respondents said they are operating without reference to any environmental travel policy and 81% stated their company did not audit carbon emissions resulting from travel.
The survey, now in its 12th year, canvassed the views of more than 3,000 business travellers across the UK, discovering attitudes to the environment for the first time.
While business people may not overall be travelling less, some 36% do claim to be taking environmental considerations into account when making their travel choices – for example, travelling by train rather than plane.
Public sector employers are almost twice as likely (20%) as those in the private sector (11%) to have an environmental policy covering travel. Medium-sized businesses are more likely to have an environmental policy (22% of those with 250-499 employees) compared with large organizations (16% of those with 500-999 employees).
The survey found a lack of consensus on who should be responsible for the effect of business travel on the environment. Overall, 35% felt the responsibility lay with government, rising to more than 40% of the company chairman surveyed, while 21% believed it was the individual’s duty (25% of chairmen) and only 18% (13% of chairmen) that of the employer. Just over one in ten said airlines and travel suppliers should shoulder the burden.
Respondents appear to support the ‘polluter pays’ principle with 42% favouring an environmental tax on airlines, although 55% believed any such tax would be passed on to the passenger.
“There is very little evidence of any significant shift in the behaviour of business travellers in 2007, despite the volumes of media coverage given to this area and the corresponding level of comment by the business community on a broad range of environmental initiatives,” commented Denise Leleux, Director of Commercial Cards, Barclaycard Business.
“One of the major issues arising is a lack of consensus amongst employers and employees about who should be taking responsibility, and how. If we are to move forward and achieve significant change, this should be the focus of attention – in the meantime, we are seeing individuals taking action where they can.”