New campaign aims for 20% cut in flights
A new campaign was launched in London last night (July 20) to persuade corporates to cut business flights.
The One in Five Challenge by the World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF) is aiming for a 20% cut in business flight by 2014.
Several major companies, among them Capgemini UK, Vodafone UK, Marks and Spencer and Cisco UK and Ireland, have already signed up for the initiative.
Launching the scheme, David Nussbaum, WWWF UK's ceo, said it was the first of its kind in the world and that it fitted neatly into the Fund's aims of tracking climate change and changing the way people lived.
He said carbon emissions had grown by more than four times since the 1950s and there was a global risk of flooding, hunger, malaria and water shortages.
Aviation emissions were growing rapidly and if that rate continued, the rest of the economy would have to reduce its CO2 emissions by 90% to offset it.
He said less flying would save a company costs and make it more profitable, people's productivity would increase, the carbon impact would fall and staff would enjoy greater well being through less travel.
Mr Nussbaum said companies could keep in contact with customers through devices like telepresence.
"Modern technology means that people do not need to do so much flying. People can keep connected without the need for so much flying," he said.
"This is a practical approach to help companies reduce their reliance on business flying.
"It is aimed at lowering carbon emission while staying connected through telepresence, webinars and video conferencing."
Earlier, Theresa Villiers, the UK Conservative shadow spokesperson on transport, said reducing carbon emissions was one of the "most important challenges of our generation."
The scheme, she said, was a "very welcome example of the potential of corporate social responsibility (CSR) could play an important role in tackling climate change."
Ms Villiers said there was a "potential for cost saving in business travel."
There was a case for "reducing the need for business related flying and long distance flying which have an impact on the quality of life."
But she said the "scale of the calamity coming to us" meant there was a need for a "culture shift."
She added: "We need to reduce the need for face to face meetings."
Technology had improved significantly and "companies are going to be focused on the need to adopt technologies like telepresence to save costs and to cut carbon emissions."
James Robey, head of corporate sustainability at Capgemini UK, said the One in Five Challenge complemented his company's aim to cut business travel by 30% by 2014.
Mike Berry, head of sustainable business at Marks and Spencer, said in a statement to the launch that one of its aims was reduce the "carbon footprint of our business travel."
Campbell Gemmell, ceo of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: "By signing up we want to show that not only are we aware of our environmental footprint, but we are actively seeking to reduce it."