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Enablon Shares Insight on Business Travel Emissions & Sustainability Reporting

Business Travel News, August 2, 2011


By Davis Jonas


New standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions generated by business travel, planned for release next month by the developers of the widely used GHG Protocol, could guide organizations as they begin to assess the environmental impact of employee travel. For those organizations that already measure their business travel carbon footprint, adherence to the new standards should improve the accuracy and consistency of their data collection and reporting.

GHG Protocol development partners the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in September plan to publish the Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard. The GHG Protocol Initiative defines Scope 3 emissions as those "released from sources owned and controlled by other entities in the value chain, such as materials suppliers, third-party logistics providers, waste management suppliers, travel suppliers, lessees and lessors, franchisees, retailers, employees and customers." (…)

The latest Scope 3 standard draft defines emissions in the business travel category as those "from the transportation of employees for business-related activities in vehicles owned or operated by third parties, such as aircraft, trains, buses and passenger cars. A reporting company’s Scope 3 emissions from business travel are the Scope 1 [direct] and 2 [certain indirect] emissions of transportation companies (e.g., airlines)." (…)

Once finalized, the Scope 3 standard should help more companies include business travel in annual corporate social responsibility reports. Many organizations currently do not mention business travel at all in such reports, and those that do often do so in passing, with brief comments on how increased videoconferencing has replaced some travel, for example. The minority of CSR reports that do include business travel GHG emissions calculations often are incomplete because they don't encompass all business travel activity (notably hotel stays) and/or don't include data from all geographies in which organizations operate. In many cases, full baselines only now are taking shape.

The client base at Enablon, a Paris-based sustainability management software provider claiming about 250 customers, "has different levels of maturity," said product manager Stephen Bauer. An organization's ability to thoroughly account for its carbon footprint "depends on the granularity of their data," he said. "Therein lies the challenge: Where do these organizations get the primary data?"

For business travel, he said, data sources include the organization's travel agency, some internal systems and, perhaps, self-reported supplier data. Bauer cautioned that third-party systems like Enablon's can crunch numbers only on data provided, though initial steps to establish "a general idea of pounds of CO2 per employee" make for a good start. (…)

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