Why the travel industry can’t wait to take action on sustainability

There has never been a more critical time for our industry to act on sustainability than right now. The planet, our environment and all of humanity are demanding action, and it’s on all of us in the travel industry to deliver.

A message from Kathy Jackson, Vice President, Executive Chair Sustainability at BCD Travel

Although focus on sustainability, particularly environmental sustainability, has waxed and waned over the years, it’s an issue that’s long been close to my heart. It’s also, I’m proud to say, an area BCD has remained dedicated to for several years.

Learn how we’re working to reduce our carbon impact by 2030.

Kathy Jackson. Vice President, Executive Chair Sustainability, BCD Travel

It’s worth noting when we talk about sustainability at BCD, we’re not just talking about protecting the planet. It’s the way we approach and ethically manage our environmental, social and financial responsibilities to ensure our ongoing business success without limiting options for future generations. We break it out into six focus areas: (1) Governance, Ethics & Compliance; (2) Workplace Practices; (3) Environment; (4) Sustainable Procurement; (5) Service Performance; and (6) Charity & Community Support.

But in this post, I’m going to focus on the environment because it’s the conversation that’s most prevalent in the travel industry right now.

The time for our industry to act has never been more critical.

The IPCC report on climate change made it clearer than ever that action is needed. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, the Working Group’s report was nothing less than “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.”

Travel is a major contributor to this climate crisis. Globally, airlines carried 4.3 billion passengers in 2018, contributing about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, global emissions from passenger air travel are projected to increase by 300-700%, according to the European Commission.

And, according to the recent CAPA/Envest Global airline net zero transition report, “Coinciding with the UN’s COP26 Climate Summit, the report indicates steep cost increases for airlines as emission reduction measures are introduced, strengthened, or expedited, including higher carbon pricing and mandated blending of sustainable aviation fuels. It also foreshadows even greater costs – including failure – for airlines which do not take meaningful action to cut their emissions…”

BCD Travel continues to make investments to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re also helping clients achieve sustainability goals through SolutionSource®, our proprietary platform for connecting clients to leading third-party technology solutions, like Climate Neutral Group and ClimatePartner, which provide services to measure and reduce CO2 emissions. Internally, we’re also working with these partners to offset part of our own internal emissions.

But now more than ever customers are demanding action and that means it’s on all of us in the industry to deliver. More than 36% of companies surveyed for BTN’s Sustainable Business Travel issue said their companies in the past 12 months had increased their public commitment to sustainable business practices.

Among those is UCB, one of BCD’s global pharmaceutical clients, which is committed to reducing the environmental impact of their entire value chain. They’ve launched a carbon maturity level survey, based on their own SBTi (Science Based Targets initiative) targets, to rank suppliers on environmental ambitions and strategies. (I’m very pleased to report that UCB ranked BCD with an A-level rating, the highest score.)

And finally, and I know I’ve already said it a few times, but it’s the right thing to do.

This corporate commitment to do the right thing underpins our culture and inspires action on several initiatives undertaken by BCD. In the sustainability space, our EcoVadis Platinum distinction has been a source of pride. It’s awarded by the world’s largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, and BCD’s Platinum rating puts us in the top 1% of the currently 75,000 companies assessed by EcoVadis.

I believe that BCD Travel has made significant strides with the initiatives I’ve mentioned above, and every time I see an announcement from suppliers serving the business travel space I’m encouraged for the future. It will take the entire travel ecosystem coming together to focus on this critical issue to drive real change.

This article was originally published by Kathy Jackson on LinkedIn.

To learn more about BCD Travel’s approach to sustainability and how we can support your company, click here.

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