Stop travelling to save the planet? We need your views

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This topic contains 53 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by  MartynSinclair 20 Aug 2011
at 05:34

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  • Anonymous

    Business Traveller’s Environmental Journalist of the Year, Jenny Southan, will be taking part in an industry round-table discussion at the Business Travel and Meetings show on February 8, on “Cost-cutting versus carbon cutting: Assessing the practical and economic considerations for making greener travel choices”, and would like your input.

    A recent forum poll indicated that an airline or hotel’s green credentials would encourage about one third of you to book with them.

    What are your views?

    What are your priorities when it comes to booking hotels and flights?

    Are you interested to know what the aviation and hotel industry is doing to become greener?

    How much responsibility do you take to make your business trips greener?

    Does your company have a green travel booking policy?

    What do you think about carbon offsetting? Do you do it? Have you ever done it? Do you or your company monitor your carbon footprint?

    Who do you think is responsible for making travel less harmful to the environment?

    What issues do you think are the most significant when it comes to making travel greener? For example, in-flight recycling, reducing carbon emissions, saving water/electricity, reducing food waste in hotels, investing in more fuel efficient planes, constructing LEED-certified buildings, carbon offsetting, choosing “greener” transport modes like train, reducing the amount of flying people do altogether, introducing effective “green” taxes.

    Do you associate saving money with saving the environment?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. We look forward to hearing your comments – the most insightful ones may well be presented at the Business Travel and Meetings Show on Feb 8.


    A simple question – when one ‘purchases’ a carbon offset for a flight, to whom does the money go exactly?


    As i am related on the oil and gas industry, i should stop flying for business 😉

    John Phelan,

    I think that those money are going to research companies/institutions in order the airlines to reduce the carbon footprint but i am not 100% sure.

    A simple question but a good one. It depends but most of it will go to the emission reduction project or projects it is affiliated with. (A percentage of your payment usually goes on admin fees as well.) For example BA sends the money to two power plants and a wind farm.

    Check out this special report on carbon offsetting we published about a year ago for more information…


    I am not certain that “green issues” would actually make me change my travel plans, but they do make me subtly alter my behaviour to reduce my impact on the environment.

    It is easy for us to sit back and let travel companies take the strain, but as has been mentioned here it is far from clear where the money generated by such things as carbon offset actually goes to, and also whether schemes like “towels hung up in your hotel room” actually save energy (in my experience these are usually replaced anyway, and that’s assuming the hotel even has the hooks required to hang up your towels in the first place).

    I recognise my carbon footprint is probably larger than most people’s, but while Green issues are important we should not lose sight of the economic benefits of meeting people face to face and using travel to do business beyond our own national borders.

    It is essential we business travellers assume some personal responsibility for reducing and minimising unnecessary travel and consumption, and tread as lightly as possible during our spell on this planet.

    I don’t offset my flights any longer as, frankly, I can’t justify the costs. There are other, more practical things I do instead such as:

    1. Ensure I take the most direct flight possible, avoiding two takeoffs/landings.

    2. Trying one’s utmost to reduce the weight of my luggage, by selecting lightweight luggage and really cutting back on what I carry with me (especially by storing papers virtually/using projectors, rather than in printed form).

    3. Using public transport to get to/from the airport where possible (this is a biggy – I have saved literally thousands of euros by doing this, and it will also have had an effect in terms of reduced numbers of car journeys).

    4. Always hanging up towels in hotels, and remonstrating with Management if they are collected/no hooks exist to hang up towels.

    5. Always walking down (and sometimes up if not too many flights!) stairs rather than using an elevator; painless and good exercise.

    6. Always use recycling bins where possible.

    7. Refuse the extra napkins at Pret, and avoid using plastic carrier bags/bags in general unless unavoidable (I prefer to re-use if I need a bag for a larger item).

    8. Always use tap water where safe to do so, and only use bottled when essential for health reasons. Do this even in smart French restaurants, where waiters look at you like you’ve just defecated in front of them when you refuse to order over-priced Badoit.

    I believe corporates are also more successful in taking action “behind the scenes” such as by recycling waste, or sourcing locally, and we as travellers would not necessarily have visibility of these programmes, which is why LEED standards really help. But there is no reason why being “green” shouldn’t also be economically sound advice.

    Reducing what we consume is in my opinion a far better approach than simply mitigating over-consumption and that should be the focus of the majority of the “green initiatives” we see; unfortunately reduced consumption does not always sit well with corporate objectives, but in fact broadening a consumer base to ensure a wider range of customers consuming less of your product can in fact encourage more stability of income, so it can make sense even in a sales-driven company. Reducing inputs is nearly always possible, and makes sense on many levels.

    I think you are spot on that being green shouldn’t automatically incur a financial penalty; much better to encourage good behaviours, rather than penalise less good behaviours, especially in areas where demand for such services is inelastic.

    I like the idea of imposing an individual “Carbon Allowance” to replace the current much-maligned Air Passenger Duty, which does very little to nothing to support green initiatives (the money does not, as far as I know, go to into environmental projects), and is simply a revenue raising tool.

    But the most important thing is to re-iterate that we need to balance the needs of the environment with the benefits generated by travel, trade and human interaction.

    Realistically, we have about three or possibly four generations of oil left to continue to travel around the planet as we currently do; after that there will be no option but to use alternatives, and we are enormously lucky to live during this most abundant of ages, and truly be able to zip around the planet almost unconstrained.


    The climate is changing. So far the true and measurable things.

    To my honest opinion, the whole carbondioxide hysteria is a hoax. The climate has always been changing, up and down. Is it manmade?
    I dont think so.
    Manmade emissions of CO2 reach at 2% of total CO2 emissions and I dont believe and cannot imagine that this quantity, give or take a little, influences the climate in such a major way.

    Climate protection (what is that actually?) has become a new religion of Europeans, of “good people”, of people that have nothing else to worry about.
    It just makes me sick and tired.


    There are very many vested interests who advocate the “global warming is a myth” perspective. These are especially prevalent in the USA, though not exclusively so.

    Personally, I think it is clear that our climate is changing, and so it should; it has always done so, and it would be most odd for a natural environment to remain constant.

    But where I would take issue is with the assertion that “it’s not man made, so we shouldn’t change our behaviour”. The issue of “who caused it” is irrelevant (though there is considerable evidence to suggest we at the very least have a hand in speeding up a natural cycle).

    We all have a responsibility to “tread lightly” and it makes sense from an ethical, environmental and efficiency perspective; it’s simply shortsighted and selfish of anyone to assert otherwise and advocate wasteful consumption regardless of the consequences for future generations.


    I have often wondered why hotels don’t offer Green floors, where the towels and sheets are not changed daily and where the number of electronic conveniences and available plugs reduced. Why lighting with sensors are generally ignored. Perhaps then, there would be no need for the extra signs asking guests to leave used towels in the bath.

    This in turn could extend to a Green discount for hotel guests willing to using the Green floors.

    Encouragement to share taxis, especially from hotels and airports, or alternatively, a taxi should be designed to only carry 1 or 2 people. It amazes me how many airport taxis are going to the same city destination areas.

    I would encourage tap water to be drunk and indeed there is an intiative in the City of London for city banquets to use and promote tap water instead of bottled water.

    The best way encourage “Green” is to look towards how money is saved in a domestic household and then translate that into the wider commercial world.


    My 9 year old calculated that 12 trees munch through 10,000 miles worth of Co2 generated by a small car per annum. A Chelsea tractor requires 20-25. My 9 year old then counted the trees in our garden. We purchased the 16 we were short of and planted them to offset our vehicles Co2. Granted, I do not live in a City and have the space to plant trees.

    Is Global warming taking place? – Probably, but saying No and being wrong is not a great idea.


    To make my point clear:

    – I believe in global warming
    – But I dont believe its manmade

    The saving and conservation of fossil carbon fuel, mainly oil, is a necessary and good cause. Still, these efforts will not change the climate in one or the other direction, IMHO.


    I’m afraid I’m with millionsofmiles on this one. I do not believe climate change is man-made. I think the hot weather we experienced till last year is down to sun-spot activity. We are now in a low sunspot phase, hence the cooler weather and more rain.

    The day I will change my flying/ driving habits is the day when politicians drive small cars, fly commercial, and turn off the lights in their offices.

    I’m also convinced we could use less street lighting. Why not turn off every other light between 1am and 5am Mon – Friday. Do we really need half the M4 to be lit up throughout the night. I remember driving once as a young man from Cardiff to London at 3am. I did the same recently. The amount of traffic was about the same, and that is why cars have headlights!

    On the travel front, our airports are lit like fairy castles, even during the day when there is plenty of light. Planes leave all the cabin lights on when flying at night (I don’t mean night flights when the cabin lights are turned off). I personally think it’s nice to travel with the cabin lights off and if you need light, you have the personal lights. That will save fuel.

    Why does Eurocontrol (or rather national governments) not sort out their airspace so we have one unified ATC rather than dozens all over Europe. This would lead to more direct flights and shorter flying times, thus saving plenty of fuel.

    On the hotel front, I’m told “you don’t change your towels daily at home, so why not use them twice?” Well, I’m not paying € 400+ a night to stay at home, and I expect the luxury of fresh towels and sheets. If however the hotel offered an incentive in the form of a reduction of say 10%, then I would re-consider. I believe the cost to change a double bed and towels for a hotel is in the region of € 20 to which must be added the maid’s time.

    Despite the above, I do do my own little bit. I ensure my room lights are off, as well as the TV when I leave the room. I also walk down the stairs but take the lift up. Though I should add I’m not really doing this for climate change, but more because I hate waste.


    The point about Eurocontrol is an excellent one, and should be further pursued in this article/seminar. It is shocking that all this needless wasted time and fuel persists above Europe’s skies.

    Turning off the telly at the mains (and your WiFi signal) when not in use certainly does save energy.


    Another thing that bugs me is the fuel burnt while waiting to land in the early morning as the airport is not yet open!!! In the case of Zurich, they open at 6am. Consequently we are frequently in the air for as much as 40 minutes, thanks to favorable winds which have speed-ed the journey. So any fuel saved thanks to nature is immediately lost thanks to man.

    The same thing at LHR. My mother’s house is under one of the holding areas. I usually awake at 5am and its fascinating to see all the large 747’s, A340’s etc circling round waiting for the airport to open so they can land.

    I think this is a ridiculous situation, and apart from the fuel burnt, the exhaust residues must fall on the very people who object to the planes landing before 6am?

    I do understand the noise issue, but planes are much quieter now, and you can still hear them while they circle above you.


    My colleague and I have just flown to Guernsey using different airlines, both arriving within an hour of each other and both flights were less than 20% full. Couldn’t airlines, especially those competing on the same commuter route(s), find a way of working together and at the same time, save money and carbon emissions?

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