Tech Companies So Far Not Focused on Cutting Corp Travel Emissions — New Report

Skift grip

Activists singled out Microsoft, Google, Facebook and a host of other technology and consulting companies in a ranking of 230 companies. But this approach is a bit backwards, with the scores failing to include initiatives that will have a big impact on business travel in the future.

Matthew Parson

Companies that have brought virtual working practices to the masses during the pandemic are, ironically, coming under heavy criticism in a new report that rates 230 global companies on their efforts to reduce carbon emissions from business travel.

Two environmental activists published a rankingand say tech giants including Microsoft, Google and Facebook are not “committed to acting with sufficient speed and ambition in line with the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.

Indeed, the authors of the report Transportation & Environment and Stand.earth believe that only 3 percent of all businesses are fully engaged.

The ranking is based on nine indicators, relating to emission reduction targets, reporting and air transport emissions. Companies were rated A, B, C or D.

A company with an “A” score has an “absolute reduction commitment for air travel, some of which are aiming for a reduction target of 50% or more by 2025”, the campaigners said. These companies have been reporting emissions from their activities or air travel for more than a year.

Only eight companies (or 3%) in the rankings got an A, the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk leading, with a 50% reduction target by 2025 and transparent reporting of air travel emissions over the past three years, according to the report.

No U.S. company earned an “A” grade, and the U.S. tech sector made up a substantial share of the lowest-ranked companies, with Google, Facebook, and Microsoft each earning a “D” for “not taking any meaningful commitments to reduce their corporate air. to travel”, activists said in a press release.

Apple received a “C” score and Salesforce received a “B” rating.

Most global companies have declared company-wide emissions reduction targets, but campaigners have looked at their commitment to reduce emissions from corporate air travel by a certain date. “Despite a rapid increase in the number of companies making ‘Net Zero’ or ‘Climate Neutral’ commitments, this analysis shows that only a few companies have committed to reducing business travel emissions in their climate strategies,” said Gary Cook, director of corporate campaigns. at Stand.earth.

Brutal approach?

However, the ranking incorrectly focuses on travel volumes in 2019, which seems a bit unfair given that many global companies have developed numerous initiatives over the past two years to reduce travel in the future. or reassess the purpose of business trips.

And at the same time, this compilation coincides with the launch of their new Travel Smart campaign, which is also supported by a coalition of 12 other groups. However, they also say the new ranking, released last week, comes at a good time as business travel begins to pick up again after a two-year hiatus.

“Reducing emissions associated with our employees’ business air travel contributes to our carbon negative commitment,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Skift, in response to the report’s release. “As part of our new carbon levy, we charge a fee of $100 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted for business travel. We will continue to increase annual fees at an accelerated pace.

Microsoft also joined the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Association and Eco-Skies Alliance and in partnership with Alaska Airlines and SkyNRG, the spokesperson added. Its partnerships and investments in sustainable aviation fuel would help accelerate the development of the SAF market by creating a stable demand signal for investors, increasing supply and reducing its cost of SAF over time. they added.

“We are also committed to working with our suppliers to reduce their carbon emissions through a Supplier Code of Conduct, including promoting reduced business travel emissions as a key lever.”

Google, meanwhile, has told Skift that it has been carbon neutral since 2007, and as part of that commitment, it offsets all emissions from business travel and employee commuting.

“We are also working to minimize the need for business travel by encouraging the use of video conferencing tools, such as Google Meet, and facilitating employee sustainable transportation options such as public transit, shuttles, carpooling or electric vehicles,” a spokesperson said. “In 2019, business trips and commuting represent less than 5% total greenhouse gas emissions for Google.

Facebook did not respond to Skift’s request for comment.

Activists also seem to single out tech giants because of their location. “In California, excessive business travel is also causing real problems for the Amazon rainforest, with oil exploration being the main driver of deforestation in the upper Amazon,” said Denise Auclair, travel campaign manager for the Amazon. business at Transport & Environment. “According to a recent study by Stand.earth, 50% of the crude exported from the Amazon region is refined in California – and a substantial part of it is transformed into jet fuel used by airlines departing from Las Angeles and San Francisco. .”

Consulting firms, which pre-pandemic were among the biggest spenders on air travel, received varying ratings: McKinsey and Accenture received a “D” in the rankings; PWC got a “B”; and EY an “A” rating.

The CDP, a global disclosure system, also recently stated that only one in 20 companies have “strong goals for emissions, water and zero deforestation”.

Transport & Environment was founded 30 years ago and focuses on lobbying in Europe, where it aims to shape environmental laws. He claims to have helped create the world’s largest carbon market for aviation and last year campaigned for Uber to commit to electrifying much of its European operations.

Stand.earth, formerly known as ForestEthics, was founded 20 years ago and its campaigns challenge “destructive” corporate and government practices, while also calling for greater accountability and solutions for a stable climate.