Through WWF “1 in 5” Challenge, Scottish Government cut number of staff flights by about a quarter over 5 years

The Scottish Government has saved more than £500,000 and shrunk its carbon footprint through cutting back on business flights. Their figures show that in the past 5 years, the Scottish government has reeduced yearly flights from 11,169 to 8,036. That is reported to mean a cut of 650 tonnes of CO2. The cuts have means an annual saving of some 31%, from £1.85 million to £1.27m. The total distance flown dropped by 23%, from nearly 8 million kilometres to 6 million kilometres. The reductions are due to the government taking part in the WWF “One in Five Challenge” to cut one flight in every five, in 5 years. The Scotland government is the first administration in the UK to successfully fulfil the WWF’s challenge. WWF Scotland said: “By successfully completing WWF’s One in Five Challenge, the Scottish Government has clearly demonstrated that many business flights are unnecessary and can easily be replaced with lower-carbon alternatives such as rail travel or video conferencing.” Much time is saved by public servants if they can use video-conferencing instead of flying, and that saves money. Time spent travelling by train, not air, is generally useful time in which work can be done. Scotland is aiming to cut its CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020.

Scottish Government praised after slashing flights


2.1.2014 (Scotland on Sunday)

THE Scottish Government has saved more than half a million pounds and shrunk its carbon footprint through cutting back on business flights.

New figures released today show that in the past five years, the government has slashed its carbon dioxide emissions by reducing yearly flights from 11,169 to 8,036 and cutting the distances flown by nearly two million kilometres.

This resulted in a reduction in emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases of 650 tonnes.

Cutting back on flights also brought about a drop in the annual spend on airline tickets from £1.85 million to £1.27m, a saving of 31 per cent. The total distance flown dropped by 23 per cent, from nearly eight million kilometres to six million kilometres.

Climate campaigners praised the efforts made by Scottish ministers and their staff, who made the cuts as part of an awards scheme run by environmental group WWF.

Scotland’s government is the first administration in the UK to successfully fulfil the “One in Five Challenge”, which requires members to cut business flights by 20 per cent within five years.

“Scottish ministers and their staff are to be congratulated for cutting their flights and carbon emissions by over a fifth,” said Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland.

“By successfully completing WWF’s One in Five Challenge, the Scottish Government has clearly demonstrated that many business flights are unnecessary and can easily be replaced with lower-carbon alternatives such as rail travel or video conferencing.

“Flying is the most polluting form of transport, as well as being a costly waste of time for our public servants. Using video-conferencing or taking the train turns wasted time into useful time and could save millions of pounds in these times of tight public finances.”

Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government has worked hard to reduce flights for business travel, achieving a 28 per cent cut since 2007. This is an important part of our overall environmental strategy to reduce our carbon footprint, and we have met the target by increasing the use of video and web-conferencing facilities for meetings and encouraging greater use of more sustainable travel options.”

A 2010 report for WWF estimated that the UK government and devolved administrations could save more than £100m and 59,000 tonnes of CO2 if they eliminated unnecessary journeys by air. Entitled Excess Baggage, the study showed 90 per cent of flights taken by government ministers and officials over the previous three years were within the UK.

The most common domestic routes were London to Edinburgh and London to Belfast, while the top short-haul overseas trips were to Brussels, Geneva, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

Scotland’s climate targets are some of the most ambitious in the world, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by the end of the decade.




In August 2010 a spokesman for the Scottish government said, when they joined the WWF 1 in 5 Challenge:

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport and Climate Change with the Scottish Government said:

“The Scottish Government is proud to be the first Government organisation to sign up to WWF’s One in Five Challenge. Since setting our world-leading emissions reductions target of 42 per cent in our Act last year, Scotland has continued to set the pace on action on climate change.

“As an organisation, we are taking action to ensure that, where business journeys are necessary, we travel sustainably. We flew half a million miles less in 2008/09 and have delivered a considerable reduction in our air travel costs. This dropped by 24 per cent from July to December 2009, compared to the previous six months. And we already have a carbon emissions levy in place so that whenever a Minister or staff member travels by air, we pay a carbon levy per journey to offset the carbon emissions. We are also making increasing use of video conferencing facilities, when appropriate, instead of travelling to meetings in the UK.”





Scottish Government squanders £8 million on record number of luxury and short-haul flights

by Declan Pang (Burning Our Money)


Since May 2007, the Scottish Government has spent more than £8 million on a record numbers of flights – an average of 25 flights for every working day since taking office. Earlier this year, nearly £50,000 was spent on a 4-day trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco where Alex Salmond attended the US premiere of the animated fantasy film Brave, which is set in the Highlands of Scotland.

In the last five years, Ministers and officials have travelled on more than 32,000 flights, over 4,000 of them on business and first class journeys, to destinations all over the world.

One ticket to the US cost £7,000, while more than £20,000 was frittered away on five luxury business class tickets for staff to travel to locations like Doha and Abu Dhabi.

The figures, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, also reveal that several Scottish ministers have spent thousands of pounds on short flights between London and Edinburgh, despite pledging to cut costs and carbon emissions from flights.

Our previous research shows that it is not just Scottish politicians and bureaucrats who like the jet-set lifestyle. Just last week we revealed that nearly £500,000 was spent on flights by councils in the North East over the last three years. TPA activists in Hampshire also uncovered £135,000 worth of flights spending over two years. We also found thatcouncils in the Midlands (excluding Birmingham) spent £275,000 on flights over the same period.

All of those flights can be viewed on this interactive map.

With modern communications and technology, many long distance journeys are now increasingly unnecessary. Public sector bodies are having to make savings so they should be working a lot harder to cut their travel costs.




Alex Salmond’s entourage spends £48,000 to attend “Brave” premier in California

Scottish ministers and their cilvil servants have spent more than £8 million of taxpayers’ money on a record number of flights, new figures reveal.

By Simon Johnson, Scottish political editor (Telegraph)

20 Aug 2012

Scottish ministers and their civil servants have spent more than £8 million taking a record number of flights including nearly £50,000 so Alex Salmond could attend a US movie premiere.

New figures revealed £8.4 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on 32,000 flights for officials since the SNP took power five years ago – an average of 25 per working day.

This includes more than 4,000 business-class and first-class journeys all over the world, with one luxury return ticket to the US costing more than £7,000.

Flights for civil servants accompanying the First Minister on a four-day trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco earlier this year cost £48,000.

His most high-profile engagement was attending the California premiere of the new Disney / Pixar movie Brave. Robbie Coltrane, one of the stars, has accused the Scottish Government of trying to “hijack” the film to promote independence.

In addition ministers, including Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, have spent up to £564 per return flight between Edinburgh and London.

The figures, released under freedom of information legislation, also revealed thousands of flights between the Scottish and English capitals. This is despite ministers urging people to reduce the number of short-haul trips.

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green Party co-leader, said: “SNP ministers like to lecture people about the need to be green but they fail to put their money where their mouth is.

“It’s time they were brought down to earth and had to make do like the rest of us. When parliament debates the Budget later this year, we should place a cap on their travel costs.”

Among the other flight costs listed are £5,500 for a civil servant to travel to Chicago and back and more than £20,000 on five business class tickets for officials to go to Doha and Abu Dhabi.

Miss Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, charged the taxpayer £564.25 for a return flight from Edinburgh to London in February this year.

Alex Neil, the Scottish Infrastructure Minister, made the same trip for £534.93 in April and Mr Salmond charged taxpayers £462.25 when he flew to London the same month.

He even used a speech on his trip to boast about Scotland’s green energy potential. Return flights between Edinburgh and London can be bought for less than £100 on budget airlines.

A Scottish Government spokesman said they have cut the cost of air travel for official business by 44 per cent since 2006-7.

“Foreign travel is tightly controlled and business class only approved for long flights where it is necessary to deal with official business immediately upon landing,” he added.




More about the WWF’s One in Five Challenge:

Join the One in Five Challenge

Helping companies fly less – good for business, good for the planet

WWF’s One in Five Challenge helps companies and government cut their costs as well as their carbon emissions from business travel.

Participants commit to cut 20% of their business flights within five years.

The Challenge is a guided programme and award scheme which suggests practical ways to cut flying and use lower-carbon ways of staying connected.

The latest three-year results are impressive: members have, on average, cut their flights by 38%, saving £2 million and 3,000 tonnes of Co2.

The Third Annual Report for the ‘One in Five Challenge’ is being published online 23 January 2014. The Challenge Toolkit, showing how successful organisations have achieved the Challenge, will also be published on this date.

One in Five Challenge Members

The following companies & organisations have been members of WWF’s One in Five Challenge:

Balfour Beatty, BSkyB, BT, Capgemini, Lloyds TSB, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft UK, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Government, Skanska, Vodafone UK and WWF-UK.

Award winners

The following members have achieved the One in Five Challenge Award:




Lloyds TSB

Microsoft UK

Scottish Government


Vodafone UK


Rewarding positive changes

Financial pressures and carbon reduction targets are already forcing many companies to cut their business travel. But to continue making these cost and carbon savings, companies will need to reduce their reliance on business flying.

They can do this by increasing the use of audio, web and videoconferencing. And rail travel offers a lower carbon alternative to flying. These lower-carbon ways of staying connected improve the productivity and well-being of staff.

Companies that successfully meet the Challenge receive a specially-designed Panda logo and WWF’s public recognition. There are also opportunities to share a public platform with WWF to demonstrate the benefits of flying less.

The business case for flying less:

Financial savings from avoided flights and accommodation

Lower emissions to meet carbon reduction targets

Increased productivity due to more time in the office

Better global collaboration and faster decision making

Better work–life balance for staff, which can boost staff retention

Improved ability to operate in a carbon-constrained future


Membership of the One in Five Challenge entitles you to:

A toolkit to help you develop and implement a greener travel policy

An online system to report and submit data for the Challenge

Consultancy support from travel planning experts to meet the Challenge

Annual reports to record progress

One in Five Challenge branding to communicate your participation and success

Ideas for improved engagement and buy-in from staff

An annual workshop and a quarterly e-newsletter

Audited data you can report to government and investors

Publicity opportunities with WWF