Business Travel GHG Emissions Analysis
Air travel is an increasing source of global GHG emissions, yet still many organizations have struggled to reduce business travel activity. Originating out of the COVID-19 pandemic and global travel restrictions, this working paper is part of a series addressing business travel reduction opportunities. This paper discusses how various organizations can and have conducted GHG emissions measurement on air travel, set science-based reduction targets, and improved accuracy and efficiency of data over time.
Air travel is a significant source of global emissions and is predicted to account for 12 to 27 percent of 2050 global emissions. Air travel emissions are increasing 70 percent faster than initially expected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is estimated that business travel represents about 15 to 20 percent of that global travel (Borko et al. 2020).
In recent years, organizations have been increasing their efforts to track and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as act to mitigate emissions. Air travel remains one of the largest emitting activities for many organizations, especially those with global reach. In 2019, U.S. residents logged more than 460 million business trips, and direct spending on business travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $334 billion (US Travel Association 2020). Although this paper was written from the perspective of nonprofit organizations, the approach applies to any organization wanting to calculate business travel emissions.
This working paper aims to advance GHG emissions inventory approaches and increase the adoption of science-based targets for air travel and other business travel modes across organizations of all scales and sectors by sharing practical guidance and implementation detail from several organizational case studies.
Cases from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and World Resources Institute (WRI) are presented to help highlight the accessibility of conducting GHG inventories for the first time and the opportunity for improving existing annual inventory processes among intermediate or advanced levels.
Cases from World Resources Institute, The European Investment Bank, Ikea, Carbon Intelligence, Toitu, and Ericsson highlight the accessibility of setting science-based targets and their role in driving change.