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Future of Work

Sustainable travel: Everything you need to know about the new UK climate legislation

With temperatures in the UK reaching 40 degrees for the first time ever recently, climate change is on everyone’s minds right now. And while we can all do our bit as individuals, businesses also have a responsibility to reduce their footprint.

The EU kicked things off by setting itself the target of being climate neutral by 2050. That means more recycling and electric vehicles, and less flying and greenhouse gas creation. But the EU isn’t the only one taking this seriously.

“It is not enough for businesses to simply say they stand for a cause, they must have honourable intentions and a motivated agenda behind it too” - Hiten Patel, Gerald Edelman

The new UK law: what’s changing?

The UK introduced new climate change reporting rules in April this year, off the back of the Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations. At the moment, these apply mainly to big corporations. SMEs that form part of the value chain for bigger listed companies may also have to report before it’s a requirement for them. Even just being a supplier to them can create a demand for sustainability reporting, given the emissions they’re capable of creating.

Going forward, LLPs and large companies will have to disclose climate-related financial information to the government. For example, they’ll have to confirm what they’re doing to manage climate-related risks and opportunities as well as how their business model would perform under different warming scenarios. With sustainability becoming a bigger priority for investors, this information is key to helping them decide which businesses to invest in.

This change will affect the UK’s biggest traded companies, as well as private companies who turn over more than £500 million a year or have more than 500 employees.

How can you adapt to the new law?

Even if you’re not one of the 1,300 organisations facing these new disclosure requirements, there are plenty of ways you can (and should) be cutting down your carbon footprint.

One of the biggest ways to have a positive impact on the planet is to travel more sustainably. But how?

Don’t travel unless it’s essential

We’ve all said “this meeting could have been an email” at some point. Well, lockdown proved “this meeting could have been a Zoom call”.

Practically overnight, business people went from flying around the world to meet clients, to taking calls in their pyjamas from the living room. Aviation emissions dropped by a whopping 75%. While face-to-face interactions can be more enjoyable, there are usually ways to get the same outcome from the comfort of your home or office. Plus, think of the money you’ll save on flights and accommodation.

If you do have to travel for work, consider flying economy rather than business or first class. Because of the lower density of seating, flying first class can create up to 4 times more emissions than sitting at the back of the plane.

Choose eco-conscious accommodation

They say it’s about the journey, not the destination. But where you stay can have just as much impact as how you get there.

If you’re staying in a hotel, just leaving the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door could save up to 6,000 gallons of water. Depending on how long you’re staying, it’s unlikely your room needs to be cleaned every single day. Many hotels already encourage you to reuse your towels and bedding throughout your stay in order to prevent unnecessary washing loads.

At Pleo, we’re big fans of Human Hotel. The platform hooks you up with accommodation in the city you’re visiting by connecting you with local residents who have spare rooms or are on holiday. By choosing a homestay, you could reduce your accommodation footprint by up to 80%.

Eco-conscious hotels aren’t always available in your destination, but Goodwings — one of our partners — makes sure that the emissions from your stay (and your whole trip) is removed, no matter which hotel you choose. If you haven’t heard of it, Goodwings is a clever hotel booking tool that aids in removing the CO2 emissions from every trip. You can even search for sustainable amenities such as electric car charging, bike rentals and composting.

We spoke to Christian Møller-Holst, CEO and Founder of Goodwings. He told us all about the future of sustainable business travel and how he thinks it should work in harmony with nature.

Are you a Pleo customer? Get 50% off your first year of a paid plan with Goodwings when you join before the end of August 2022.

Use public transport rather than taxis

Not only is public transport usually cheaper than a taxi, it’s way better for the environment. For example, a full bus carriage is roughly the same as 50 people driving their own cars. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a parking space, driving on the wrong side of the road or getting stuck in traffic. 

If you have to use a taxi, try to coordinate with other people you’re travelling with so you can share a car. If an electric car is available, even better!

Trains over planes

Travelling to Europe? There’s a good chance a train will take you where you need to go. It’s already the transport mode of choice for the majority of Pleo users, with UK customers shelling out the most at Trainline. 

For Pleo users in Spain and Sweden, high-speed trains are the top pick when it comes to business travel

It might take a bit longer, but your carbon footprint will thank you. Plus, you’ll enjoy more leg room and you won’t have to worry about airport security queues or last minute flight cancellations.

That said, hopefully the government’s new Jet Zero strategy - aimed at achieving net zero aviation by 2050 - will mean we can keep flying without guilt.

Offset your journey

Aeroplanes are a huge contributor to global carbon dioxide production - that’s nothing new. What is new is carbon offsetting, where you pay a fee to cover the emissions your flight produces. 

While they can’t completely get rid of the CO2 produced, they can reduce it elsewhere instead. It’s likely that your money will be invested in a project (like forestry or energy) that reduces CO2 levels by the same amount produced by your flight.

Most airlines offer this option when you’re booking your flight, but it’s best to check the details first as some are criticised for being run by profit-making companies.

Use Goodwings’ carbon calculator to reveal your emissions from your trip, from flights to meals and accommodation

Only pack what you need

Airlines like RyanAir have been slammed for only allowing passengers to bring a small under-the-seat bag with them for the price of the plane ticket. While this might be inconvenient for you, it’s great for the environment. If people who don’t utilise their luggage reduce what they pack by 25%, it could save 7537 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

If you’re travelling for business, it’s possible you’re only away for a few days, so you probably don’t need that much luggage. Try splitting toiletries with the people you’re travelling with so you don’t double up, and follow these packing tips to make the most of the space you have. Do you ever actually wear everything you pack, anyway?

Consider going veggie during your trip

It’s no secret that cutting meat from your diet does wonders for the planet. It spoils the oceans, drains the world's oil supplies and overheats the earth. But for many, ditching meat in the long-term feels unrealistic. Instead of going vegetarian full-time, why not make a pact with yourself to try it during work trips? With plenty of protein-packed meat substitutes and veggie menus on the market, even the most hardcore carnivores should be able to manage a few days.

You might be exempt from the new climate change reporting laws, but it’s up to everyone to do their bit - at home and away. 

We at Pleo are aware there’s more we could be doing to reduce our carbon footprint. No one’s perfect, but it’s the little things we make a conscious effort to do which really add up. Events are a big part of what we do, and to make things leaner and greener, we opt for local, organic, seasonal food and drinks. If you’ve spotted our Pleo t-shirts and tote bags out and about, these are made by suppliers who share our eco-conscious values and promote quality over quantity. 

Similarly, our annual team camp is taking place in Croatia this year. In an effort to off-set transportation, we’ll be enjoying mainly vegetarian food and every employee has their own Pleo water bottle to carry instead of buying single-use plastic bottles. A number of Pleo’ers have decided to roadtrip to Croatia instead of flying, and some brave individuals are even taking a two-wheeled approach 🚴

So with business travel back on the cards after COVID, there’s never been a better time to rethink how you can start saving the planet (and your company’s wallet). No matter what, a great first step to become a more sustainable traveller is to know your own carbon footprint, so you can reduce it.

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