Excessive business air travel undermining net-zero commitments

13th March 2024


Multinational corporations are undermining their net-zero commitments with excessive air travel and no plans to reduce ‘the low hanging fruit’ of carbon footprints, a study by Transport & Environment has found.

The NGO ranked 328 global companies on their efforts and commitments to reduce business travel by air, and found that 83% still don’t have credible plans to reduce corporate flying emissions.

Only five companies meet the “gold standard” for cutting air travel by reporting on emissions and committing to a reduction of 50% or more by 2025 or sooner.

The analysis also found that just 25 firms are responsible for 36% of travel emissions recorded in the ranking.

If these top 25 flyers cut their business flying in half, it would achieve a third of the emissions reductions needed by 2025 from the companies in the ranking, and be equivalent to cutting the emissions produced by three million cars in a year.

“Top flyers have an outsized responsibility to cut down their flying,” said Denise Auclair, corporate travel manager at Transport & Environment. “They must urgently set targets or risk losing out to competitors. There are no excuses for not taking action.”

Air travel emissions is the most climate-intensive form of travel, and business travel is estimated to account for about 15-20% of air travel emissions globally, and 25-30% at the European level.

KPMG and Accenture are among the consulting giants in the latest analysis without plans to cut business travel by air, while peers EY, PwC and Deloitte are much more ambitious and have reduction targets in place.

Johnson & Johnson and Merck are among the pharmaceutical companies with no plans to cut air travel, with the researchers warning that they have bounced back close to their 2019 levels of corporate travel, at only -28% and -17%, respectively.

Transport & Environment is now calling on governments to set mandates for businesses to reduce travel emissions, to report the full impacts of their air travel, and to include business flying emissions reduction targets in their climate transition plans.

“Many companies are yet to lift a finger to act on the climate footprint of their business flying,” commented Florence Long, communications and administrative officer at the Aviation Environment Federation.

“It is imperative that companies set tangible goals and binding commitments to achieve lower levels of business flying. Without these concerted actions, net-zero pledges will simply become empty words.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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