Firms keen to find greener options for their business travel requirements could benefit from a new online carbon calculator tool unveiled today by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT).
The calculator will be available on the CWT Portal web site at the end of February, according to the David Tibbles, global product director for online booking at the corporate travel specialist. It is designed to let business users calculate and compare the carbon footprint of various travel options, as well as the cost, before booking trips.
Tibbles said that although other organisations already offer similar carbon calculators for air travel, CWT's version adds rail data into the equation. "If you enter an air travel route, the tool can give you a rail alternative," he explained. "It can search through six million rail routes across the UK, and we're thinking of expanding this to European destinations such as France and Germany as well."
CWT is the business travel partner of hundreds of UK companies and is the preferred supplier for many government departments. The first stage of the calculator was developed in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which plans to roll the tool out internally.
Defra's Jonathan Green said the carbon calculator was a "positive example" of the travel industry tackling environmental issues. He added that balancing the cost of travel against the impact of CO2 emissions is a huge challenge that businesses need to face. "This is particularly true as shareholders become more aware of the importance of corporate social responsibility and the environment," Green argued.
Tibbles added that the travel industry was facing increasing pressure from customers to report on CO2 emissions. "But business travellers also want to get this information upfront before committing to a route," he said.
However, as one hand of the travel industry gives, the other takes away.
According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, worldwide demand for executive jets soared last year. Almost 900 private planes were delivered during 2006, up from 750 in 2005. One company has reportedly signed up for a corporate version of the Airbus A380 superjumbo.
So while some firms might consider switching their short-haul flight options for a more eco-friendly rail alternative, it is obviously proving far prove harder to convince the growing private jet crew to do likewise. Maybe being made to include the CO2 emissions from their executive planes in public CSR reports would persuade them to move towards more sustainable means of transport where possible.
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