Managing our travel emissions

Business travel remains our single largest source of carbon emissions, and - as we’ve continued to reduce our emissions from energy - has grown to around 90% of our reduced carbon footprint in 2019 (scope 1, 2 & 3). Air travel accounts for most of this figure (79% of our total emissions) making it a high sustainability priority.

Business travel is a necessary part of the way we work, as our ability to serve our clients largely depends on being able to visit their locations. It's also important for building relationships, which is at the core of our brand. However, we continue to challenge ourselves on the need, frequency and mode of travel.

Between 2007 and 2017 we reduced our carbon emissions from business travel by 4%, while almost doubling the size of the business. Building on this, and as a key part of our target to reduce our total carbon emissions by 40% by 2022, we’ve set a new ‘travel intensity’ target to reduce our emissions from business travel per employee (FTE) by 33%. In 2019 we made good progress, reducing travel emissions per person by 2%. This takes our overall travel intensity reduction to -21% compared to our 2007 baseline.

Our approach

Our strategy for reducing travel emissions involves both reducing the number of journeys our people make and also looking for less carbon-intensive ways of working.

We've worked to reduce unnecessary journeys, encouraging both internal and client-facing teams to make better use of technology-based alternatives that support collaborative working from different locations.

And our travel policy encourages our people, once they’ve considered the need to travel, to use our internal systems to book travel, so we can improve our management information, risk management and costs.

Programmes

We have several programmes to help our people take practical measures to reduce their carbon footprint:

Alternatives to travel

The simplest way to cut emissions caused by travel is to avoid it. Technology can help us to connect with clients and colleagues effectively, so in 2012, we launched a multi-phased campaign to boost the use of online meetings, which over the years emphasised different benefits of the technology to our people, and specific features that aid collaboration.

More than 5,000 of our people completed online training in these technologies. The average number of online meetings hosted per person rose significantly over that period, as a precursor to our adoption of cloud-based technologies such as Google for Work, and the remote collaboration that this enables, as part of our wider digital transformation.

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Internal controls

Our travel policy encourages our people to use our internal systems to book travel, giving us greater influence over how they travel. And our requirement for senior management approval helps to challenge the assumption that flying somewhere is always the best option. It was a significant contributing factor in reducing our in emissions from non-client related  air travel, which fell by 90% between 2007 and 2017.

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Low carbon driving

We've continued to raise awareness of low carbon driving options among our staff, promoting hybrid, electric and low carbon vehicles available through our staff company car scheme.

The fleet's emissions currently average 117 g/km. This is below the industry average of 125g/km, and down from 118 g/km in 2018. The average emissions for our order bank of replacement vehicles is 115 g/km.

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Support for cycling

We’ve participated in the Government's Cycle to Work scheme for several years, enabling us to lend bikes and cycling safety equipment to our people as a tax-free benefit. The scheme had 192 participants in 2019, bringing the total to over 2,000 since we began.

We continue to reimburse our people with mileage expense payments for work-related journeys, as well as making improvements to our buildings such as double tier bike racks, extra showers, lockers and a bike repair station in our More London office to help our people to keep cycling. We’ve also launched a scheme for staff to borrow Brompton bikes to cycle between our London offices at Embankment Place and More London.

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Commuting

In addition to our business travel, there is also a sizeable carbon impact from our people commuting to work. This depends, in part, on where our people live, where clients are based, and the location of our offices, which have generally been located close to public transport .as part of our real estate strategy and strategic business planning.

We’ve been measuring aspects of our commuting for over a decade. Getting robust data remains challenging, but we periodically analyse how far and how often our people commute to different offices, together with the mode by which they travel. In 2017 we modelled carbon emissions from our people commuting at approximately 14,100 tonnes CO2e.

However, there is still work to do to improve the reliability of this data and the actionable insights that it gives us. 

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Contact us

Mark Avery

Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 5102

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