Only around 15 per cent of global companies have set targets to reduce their emissions from the flights being taken by their employees, according to an annual report by campaign group Transport & Environment.
The second Travel Smart report ranks organisations across Europe, North America and India on their commitments, emissions output and reporting performance around air travel.
The companies best targeting air travel emissions according to Transport & Environment's 2023 Travel Smart study. Only 11 of the 322 organisations included in the report achieved an A grade. They are listed below together with their total score.
1. ABN Amro - 12.5
2. Swiss Re - 12
3. Novo Nordisk - 12
4. Zurich Insurance - 11.5
5. Fidelity International - 11.5
6. Lloyds Banking Group - 11
7. AstraZeneca - 11
8. Abrdn - 11
9. Credit Agricole - 10.5
10. HSBC - 10.5
11. Pfizer Inc - 10.5
This year’s study, which is compiled by Transport & Environment and a coalition of global partners, has been enlarged to cover 322 organisations, including those based in India, compared with the 230 European and North American firms analysed in 2022.
The report found that 85 per cent of global companies did not have “credible plans” to reduce emissions from their business flights – only 50 of the firms covered in the report have so far set targets to cut these emissions.
Only four companies - Novo Nordisk, Swiss Re, Fidelity International and ABN Amro – achieved Travel Smart’s “gold standard” ranking. This requires them to report air travel emissions and commit to reduce them by at least 50 per cent between 2019 and 2025. The four organisations were also among the top performers in the inaugural 2022 Travel Smart report.
Full climate impact
For the first time, the assessment also includes non-CO2 emissions such as nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and water, as well as particulate matter (soot), which account for an estimated two-thirds of total climate warming from flights, according to Transport & Environment.
The report found that only 40 companies (12.4 per cent) currently report the full climate impact of their flights for all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Pharma firms AstraZeneca and Pfizer and consulting companies Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte were praised for reporting all emissions associated with their corporate flights.
All companies featured in the report are awarded an A, B, C or D grade, but only 11 organisations (3.4 per cent) achieved the top A grade this year, compared with eight firms in 2022 (3.5 per cent).
Another 38 companies (11.8 per cent) were given a B rating, while 212 organisations (65.8 per cent) received a C grade and 61 (18.9 per cent) were awarded a D ranking. Last year, 193 out of 230 companies received a C or D grade, which is almost exactly the same proportion (83.9 per cent) as in this year’s extended study (84.7 per cent).
Denise Auclair, corporate travel manager at Transport & Environment, said: “Corporates are turning a blind eye to the harms done by flying for work. Most companies are taking little to no action on business flying, which renders any other travel targets meaningless in the context of tackling climate change.
“Only a few frontrunners align with science by reporting non-CO2 emissions - the hidden part of the iceberg of aviation’s full climate impact.”
The study said that if the firms in the bottom 10 per cent of the rankings made commitments to halving their flight emissions, it would go “half the way” to achieving the global target of halving corporate air travel emissions by 2025.
The Travel Smart campaign calls upon companies to set “ambitious targets” to reduce their corporate travel emissions, as well as switching from air to rail travel where possible, and using video conferencing as a substitute to long-haul travel.
“The biggest emitters have a disproportionate role to play in reducing their corporate flying emissions,” added Auclair. “The means to achieve this are more accessible than ever before: rail travel when distances permit it and video conferencing to avoid long-haul flights.”