WWF-UK launches Travelling Light on how British business can reduce flying

16.5.2008   (WWF-UK)

New report – “Travelling Light”

WWF today launched “Travelling Light”, a report into the appetite of British
business to reduce its flying, with a focus on the possibilities of ‘virtual meetings’
through videoconferencing.   The report also serves to launch  WWF-UK’s campaign
One in Five”  for companies to cut one in five business flights,  over five years.

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions in the UK,
rising annually at a rate of 3% and representing 13% of the climate change damage
generated by the UK.

Business flying plays an essential part in determining aviation’s future as it
currently represents 22% of UK passenger trips and a much higher percentage of
airline profitability. New research challenges the assumption that airport expansion
is essential for business productivity.

WWF-UK sought to understand how seriously businesses are taking the need to reduce
their carbon footprint from travel, and their future flying intentions.   So in
January 2008,  they commissioned an independent market research company, Critical
Research, to undertake a survey of business travel practices among the FTSE 350

Here is a taster of the findings in  the report, Travelling Light:

 Key findings

  • 62% of companies surveyed are already reducing their business travel footprint.
  • A further 24% of companies are currently developing plans to do so.
  • 89% of companies expect they will want to fly less over the next 10 years.
  • 85% of companies say that videoconferencing can help them reduce their flying.
  • 89% of companies believe that videoconferencing can improve their productivity.

These findings are very significant, not only because they challenge the assumption
that airport expansion is essential for business productivity, but also because
they lend support to WWF-UK’s latest campaign calling on companies to cut one
in five business flights.

Why is WWF-UK concerned about aviation emissions?

WWF is focussing its work on aviation and climate change  because:

  • It is already responsible for around 13% of the UK’s overall climate change impact.
  • It is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions in the UK.
  • At current rates of growth, by 2050 aviation emissions will account for half
    the UK’s carbon budget.
  • If the government increases its carbon reduction target from 60% to 80% as WWF,
    other NGOs and leading scientists are demanding, aviation will consume our entire
    carbon budget.
  • Swallowing up our limited carbon budget in this way, could potentially push up
    the cost of living for everyone – including half of the UK population who don’t
    fly in any given year.

Leading the way

In the UK we fly more per person than in any other country. If we are serious
about tackling climate change it simply doesn’t make sense to ignore the increasing
threat posed by aviation. This is why WWF has identified emissions from aviation
as a priority focus.

Are you a business wanting to fly less?

WWF’s report, Travelling Light, has found that there is great potential for businesses
to fly less while remaining productive.   There are many good reasons why businesses
are now flying less and making greater use of audio and videoconferencing:

  • Significant cost and carbon savings
  • Time efficiencies and less disruption
  • Better work-life balance for employees
  • Improved collaboration and communication with global clients, suppliers and colleagues
    through greater frequency of ‘virtual’ meetings, involving more people
  • Faster decision-making

With one in four companies now measuring their carbon emissions, cutting back
on non-essential business travel is increasingly viewed as a quick way of making
big carbon savings.

Furthermore, with more companies producing annual Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) reports, and growing pressure from government, there is an expectation to
see carbon emissions being reduced.

Rewarding positive changes

WWF’s “One in Five Challenge” aims to galvanise the growing desire among businesses
to fly less by providing a focus for flight reduction.   With clear aims and with
buy-in from boardroom level, the One in Five Challenge can help accelerate the
organisational commitment to greener business travel that will need to happen
to reduce flying.

What’s more, the One in Five Challenge is an easy way to let your business partners
and investors know that you as a business are doing the responsible thing and
flying less.

More specifically, when a company commits to the One in Five Challenge, WWF will:

  • Provide information on the economic benefits of audio and videoconferencing.
  • Suggest sources of information that can help you choose the appropriate systems
    and implement a flight reduction strategy in your organisation.
  • Help you to record the flights you’ve avoided, what alternatives you’ve used
    and the carbon savings achieved by not flying.
  • Provide a means of following a downwards trajectory to help you track progress
    but also to raise the alarm if you go off course.
  • Provide the One in Five Challenge branding for internal and external communications
    associated with business travel.

If you think your business would be interested in taking up the One in Five Challenge,
or if you would like to find out more, please contact us at