Travel 12th March 2021 - 4 min read

The rise of the green travel programme

By Joni Lindes

The evidence for climate change and the motivation for green travel is significant. Of the many symptoms of climate change, the devastating wildfires in California, was one of the most shocking. According to Scientific American, wildfires are five times more likely to happen now than in the 1970s. The Australian 2019/2020 bushfire season was also one of the worst in recent times. The fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people.

In light of these climate disasters and a mountain of compelling evidence, many nations in the world have taken serious action on climate change in the last three years – with France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, China, Japan and South Korea committing to net zero emissions targets in the next ten, twenty and thirty years.

2020 also jumped high on the agenda for large corporates like EY, Coca-Cola, Apple, Shell, BP, American Airlines and many others. In fact, 2020 saw many Fortune 500 companies make pledges to become carbon-neutral in the next ten, twenty and thirty years.

Sustainability and business travel

How does this affect business travel and meetings?

In 2021, environmental sustainability is a major topic of discussion, making Business Travel News Europe’s “hotlist” of travel industry trends. Many travel programmes such as EY, S&P Global, Microsoft, UBS, Pfizer and Boston Consulting Group have made public pledges to lower their emissions in business travel. Green travel is on the rrise.

Travel programmes with sustainability goals and strategies

Boston Consulting Group

At the end of 2020, Boston Consulting Group announced its goal of cutting its business travel-related carbon emissions by at least 30% per full-time employee by the year 2025 from 2018 levels. Global Head of Travel Gehan Colliander’s carbon reduction strategy involves a two-part process: reducing trip numbers where possible and reducing carbon footprint per trip by including extended stays at customer locations instead of shuttling back and forth; choosing meeting destinations that require the lowest combined travel emissions for all participants; and changing policy to favour rail over air, or direct flights over indirect routes.

Gehan Colliander said, in a session on Sustainability at the 2021 Business Travel Show Europe Kick-off event that data is crucial to her strategy to reduce carbon emissions. “You need to have data accuracy. You need to slice and dice the data, so you can communicate with management and provide information to the traveller.”

Just like Gehan, many other travel managers are stressing the importance of having emissions-related data available to travellers.

Last week, we hosted a webinar How to promote Sustainability and calculate your company’s carbon footprint where we asked Pfizer, S&P Global and UBS to educate us on their plans for sustainability in their travel programmes. This is just some of the insights discussed:


Ryan Ferros, Category Lead of Global Travel Analytics for UBS is trying to deliver the right information to travellers and bookers upon point of sale.

“We are looking at updating our booking tools to show these emissions and not just for air but for car, hotel and rail. We want to give them something that they can relate to like a tree icon or disposable coffee cup… we are also looking to incentivise bookers and travellers by gamification,” said Ferros in the webinar.


Pfizer has committed to reducing emissions related to business travel by 25% by 2025. Speaking in our webinar last week, Tina Quattlebaum, Director of Global Travel Operations at Pfizer is also concerned with educating travellers on the choices they are making. In addition, she has put through a new policy incorporating sustainability and wellness.

She is starting to collaborate with suppliers and do different initiatives to encourage “healthy competitiveness” in sustainability and wellness.

S&P Global

S&P Global has made a commitment for a 25% reduction in business travel emissions by 2025. According to Director of Global Travel and Meetings, Ann Dery, another panellist in our webinar, they are starting the sustainability strategy process by looking at their data. One data point Dery noted was that shorter duration trips and internal travel make up around 25% of all travel at S&P Global. She notes that these types of trips may be something they can cut down on by simply examining trip purpose more closely.

Ann agreed with other panellists in the webinar that most booking tools do not give enough information at the point of sale. “They may give you the emissions’ data, but they don’t give you alternatives,” said Ann.

Both S&P Global and Pfizer are using browser extensions to try and enhance information at the point of sale.

Watch the recorded webinar video here

Sustainability and suppliers

With buyers pushing the sustainability agenda, suppliers will soon follow.

Our poll during our webinar confirmed that, not only did buyers want more sustainable practices, but they were willing to pay a bit more for it, with 68,4% of poll respondents saying they would pay up to 10% more for green travel.

Recently, on March 2nd, Delta Airlines and Deloitte signed an Aviation Fuel Agreement to purchase enough sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to “represent a lifecycle emissions reduction of approximately 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide,” according to the carrier.

If 2020 was the year of big announcements for sustainability and net zero emissions targets, let 2021 be the year these plans get put into action.

In the words of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, “2021 is a make or break year to confront the global climate emergency.”

If you would like to know how PredictX can help you measure programme metrics like CO2 emissions and promote green travel within your organisation, contact us for a free consultation.

For more information and insights on sustainability, download our 2021 Sustainability report

Joni Lindes
By Joni Lindes
4 min read

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