We plant trees to offset carbon dioxide

Now more than ever, businesses are taking into consideration the relationship between travel and the environment.  Corporates want to ensure they are acting ethically and responsibly, but at the same time, commercial pressures mean travelling remains a crucial fact of business life.

Finalist: the GTM Carbon Offset Programme has been named as a finalist in the first ever Star Sustainability Initiative

Catastrophe terminology like ‘climate crisis’, ‘#flightshame’, ‘climate emergency’ and ‘global threat’ are commonplace in media reports whenever climate summits or protests take place.

This is causing a change in consumer behaviour.  Customers are now looking to do business with suppliers who take their environmental responsibility seriously. 

Business is now won not just by competing on price and product, but by demonstrating awareness and leadership in the sphere of climate responsibility. 

For this reason, small investments businesses make in order to demonstrate their climate leadership can produce returns in terms of publicity, goodwill and, of course, making a difference to the climate crisis.  

With this in mind, Global Travel Management has set up its Carbon Offset Programme, enabling corporate customers of any size to participate in a sustainable, low-cost, high-impact scheme to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere by human activities. When we burn fuels like wood, coal, natural gas, gasoline and oil, carbon dioxide is released. During this burning, carbon from the fossil fuels combine with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere then traps heat and makes global temperatures rise.

Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 was one of the warmest years on record. As temperature levels rise, floods, droughts, storms and crop failures intensify.

To reduce these levels, in order to restore the planet’s natural balance we must slow down our consumption, cut our emissions or draw existing carbon out of the atmosphere.

Power generation, deforestation and road transport are among the worst offenders. Drawing existing carbon out of the atmosphere is a priority. It will require massive efforts from many different sectors, with a combination of approaches.

Travel is a comparatively small contributor, however travel has high value transactions where offsetting is a relatively small percentage of the transaction value. That gives travellers a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership in the battle against unsustainably high carbon dioxide levels.

As trees grow, they absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions, then release oxygen into the air.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Ward Crowther is the chief scientific advisor to the UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign.

It is estimated that 12,000 years ago there were 6 trillion trees on Earth.

Today, there are only about, 3 trillion.

Yet, despite human activities, agriculture and urbanisation we still have 900 million hectares of tree restoration potential in the world.

Currently, tree planting is considered to be one of the most cost effective methods of offsetting carbon dioxide. Scientists know of no other current carbon drawdown solution that is quantitatively as large in terms of carbon capture.

Trees clean the air by absorbing harmful carbon dioxide; help to filter the water we drink; provide habitat to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity; provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people; provide key ingredients in 25% of all medicines; provide fruit, nuts, berries and leaves for consumption by humans and animals; and help support the welfare of local communities.

In short, planting trees is the best, most sustainable, effective way for humans to counteract the damaging effect of carbon dioxide emissions.

Each time you travel on business, we calculate the carbon dioxide emissions from your flights.

We use a combination of calculations, based on three protocols.

  • DEFRA The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – UK. The government conversion factors for greenhouse gas reporting are for use by UK and international organisations to report on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • GHG Protocol The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard provides calculation tools, requirements and guidance for companies and other organisations preparing a corporate-level GHG emissions inventory.
  • IPCC The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – 195 member countries.

This gives us a calculation showing the mass of greenhouse gas emission in kg.

We then show you how many trees would need to be planted in order to absorb that mass of greenhouse gas, over the course of a ten-year lifecycle.

We provide a cost per tree for sourcing, delivering and planting those trees. And we provide you with the details of the the trees you have purchased to offset your trips.

In this way, the total greenhouse gas emissions for each trip will be offset by carbon sequestration – that is, the absorption by the trees of carbon dioxide.

You can choose to offset the emissions for a single trip, or arrange to buy trips on a quarterly basis to offset all of your business travel over that period.

A typical hardwood tree will sequester (absorb) 163kg of carbon dioxide in the first ten years of its growth (source: Trees4Travel). Each tree continues to sequester carbon dioxide throughout its estimated 150-year lifecycle, creating an even more beneficial effect on atmospheric carbon.

Co-founders of Trees4Travel Nico Nicholas (top) and Elkie Nicholas

The Global Travel Management Carbon Offset Programme is provided in partnership with Trees4Travel Ltd.

Trees4Travel is a business set up by founders Nico and Elkie Nicholas who, together with their team want to do good and make a difference to the world.

The Trees4Travel team organises, manages and oversees the full project of buying, distributing and arrange the planting of saplings within carefully-managed forestry projects in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa.

The newly-planted saplings are watered and maintained and the Trees4Travel team visits, photographs and films them, on-site.

You can find out more about Trees4Travel here.

Contact Scott Pawley to find out how to offset your business travel carbon emissions

If you would like to start offsetting your business travel carbon emissions, or would just like to know how much it would cost, we can walk you through the process.

Global Travel Management managing director, Scott Pawley explains;

When corporate clients talk to me about offsetting their business travel carbon emissions, there are usually two questions they want answers to. First, ‘how much is it going to cost?’ And second, once I have shown them the costs, ‘how do I start?’

The first thing we do is analyse the last full year’s flights the corporate has taken. We look into the class, departure and arrival cities, type of aircraft… everything we need in order to ascertain a measurement, within the Defra guidelines, of greenhouse gas emissions.

Once we have analysed and produced that figure, we can show it as a total mass, in kilograms of GHG – greenhouse gas.

This figure is then used to determine how many trees would need to be planted to offset that amount of carbon over a ten-year lifecycle of the trees. And we show the cost to plant that number of trees. It’s as simple as that.

When a corporate agrees to buy the trees, our partners at Trees4Travel take over. They source, acquire, ship and arrange planting of the saplings. These are taken care of by the local forest management organisation. At the end of each year, Trees4Travel then provide a running total of the numbers of trees planted for the corporate along with the mass of GHG those trees have absorbed.

Scott explained an offer he can make:

I would like to show you how little it would cost for you to offset the carbon emissions from your business travel. Drop me an email on the address below and I will analyse your business travel carbon emissions and show you how many trees you would need to buy. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

To find out how many tress you would need to plant to offset your business travel carbon emissions, start by dropping us an email here

Scott added:

We all need to leave a legacy of for our children’s futures. What better way than to make a significant, positive impact to the environment, so that we leave the planet better than how we found it?

HRH The Prince of Wales sees how British Airways is investing in sustainability

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has toured British Airways’ engineering base in Cardiff, seeing first-hand the changes, large and small, which the airline is making as it works towards more sustainable flying.

In front of more than 400 BA staff, His Royal Highness was shown the nose-to-tail focus on sustainability from the heavy-weight investments in new fuel-efficient aircraft, to the smallest detail of using a light-weight solder in aircraft repairs, bringing down the carbon footprint of each journey.

British Airways is forensically assessing its entire operation to find the little changes which add up to a big change of direction.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales was shown around a Boeing 787-9, one of the world’s most efficient aircraft. British Airways is investing in a further 73 fuel-efficient and quieter aircraft to arrive before 2024.
  • Each First-Class duvet is now made from 19 recycled plastic bottles.
  • Replacing seats on short-haul aircraft with new lighter weight versions saves 9,100 tonnes of CO2 per year. That’s equivalent to more than 350 return flights from London to Berlin.
  • British Airways now taxis to the runway using a single engine taxi on short haul flights, saving 3,700 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to more than 100 return flights from London to Madrid.
  • The airline’s lighter cabin trolleys save 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per year; that’s a saving equivalent to more than 300 return flights from London to Paris.
  • BA now retract landing lights earlier on our A320 fleet, burning less fuel and saving 8,000 tonnes of CO2 per year; a saving equivalent to 150 return flights from London to Athens.
  • Plastic swizzle sticks have been replaced with bamboo versions, saving 45 tonnes of plastic per year.
  • The plastic wraps on bedding have been replaced by paper bands. That adds up to more than 19 million pieces of plastic which have been removed.

British Airways’ Chairman and Chief Executive, Alex Cruz, who led the tour, said:

It has been an honour to showcase our work in this area to His Royal Highness today. Every decision we make at British Airways now starts with a simple question: what does that mean for our sustainability aspiration? We’re now offsetting carbon emissions on all our flights within the UK, and were the first airline group to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, but keeping an eye on the detail as well as the bigger picture is the only way to get there.

Louise Evans, Director of Communications & Corporate Responsibility said:

From new, quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft to sustainable swizzle sticks that eliminate the use of single use plastic, we’re carrying out a huge transformation of the way we fly.

His Royal Highness opened this engineering base 26 years ago, and we were delighted to welcome him back to our engineering base here in Cardiff so he can see for himself the steps we are taking to a sustainable future.

Contact your GTM Account Manager the next time you plan to fly on British Airways.

UK Aviation Commits to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Members of the UK Sustainable Aviation coalition have united behind a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. At an event with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP in Central London, aviation industry executives signed a pledge committing to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

This is based on a thorough review of the opportunities to cut aviation emissions and forms a central pillar of a new “Decarbonisation Road-Map: A Path to Net Zero” published by Sustainable Aviation. This sets out where reductions can come from, including through smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, modernising UK airspace, the use of sustainable aviation fuels, and high-quality market-based policy measures.

With these actions, the UK will be able to grow passenger numbers by 70% – in line with current projections – whilst reducing net emissions from 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year today down to zero.

A “Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road-Map” has also been released today alongside the Decarbonisation Road Map, which identifies the specific role that sustainable aviation fuels could play in meeting this commitment. It forecasts that the UK could become a world leader in developing sustainable aviation fuels, which could meet 32% of the nation’s demand for aviation fuel by 2050.

Neil Robinson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:

Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world. We know aviation emissions will increase if decisive action is not taken, and that’s why UK aviation today commits to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.

The UK is well positioned to become one of the leaders in the green technologies of the future, including sustainable aviation fuels and electric flight, creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the process, and we look forward to working in partnership with Ministers to help realise these opportunities.

Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said:

The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the modern world, but the aviation sector’s commitment today is a huge step forward in creating a greener future.

Aviation has a crucial role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and with the help of new technologies, renewable fuels and our continued international co-operation through the UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, we’ll be able to strike that balance, creating a greener and cleaner future.

easyJet makes net zero carbon emission commitment

easyJet has announced that it will become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its whole network.

The airline will achieve this goal by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights. easyJet will undertake carbon offsetting through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and VCS.  They will include forestry, renewable and community based projects.

The airline will continue to support innovative technology, including the development of hybrid and electric planes, working with others across the industry to reinvent and de-carbonise aviation over the long-term. The aim will be for easyJet to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting undertaken as new technologies emerge.

easyJet and Airbus will cooperate on three distinct work packages set to define the impacts and the requirements necessary for the large-scale introduction of next generation sustainable aircraft on infrastructure and every-day commercial aircraft operations.  

easyJet has been supporting Wright Electric over the last two years, which is aiming to produce an all-electric ‘easyJet sized’ plane which could be used for short haul flights.

easyJet will also aim to stimulate innovation in carbon reduction by supporting the development of technologies which will enable hybrid electric and  electric planes and championing advanced carbon capture technologies. We will look to use these technologies as well as sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) as they become available and commercially viable.

Since 2000 easyJet has reduced the carbon emissions for each kilometre flown by a passenger by over a third (33.67%). Initiatives have included introducing light weight carpets, trolleys and seats, single engine taxiing and removing paper manuals from aircraft.

In 2013 easyJet established a public target to reduce its carbon emissions per passenger kilometre.  The target was strengthened in 2015 to a 10% reduction on carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 2022 on its 2016 performance.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s CEO, said:

Climate change is an issue for all of us. At easyJet we are tackling this challenge head on by choosing to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights starting today. In doing so we are committing to operating net-zero carbon flights across our network – a world first by any major airline. We acknowledge that offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying, but we want to take action on carbon now.

easyJet has a long tradition of efficient flying – the aircraft we fly and the way we fly them means that easyJet is already more efficient than many airlines. However, our priority is to continue to work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including electric planes which aspire to radically reduce the carbon footprint of aviation. 

I am therefore delighted that we have also announced a new electric plane partnership with Airbus. We will be working together to identify the detailed technical challenges and requirements for electric and electric hybrid planes when deployed for short haul flying around Europe.  We hope this will be an important step towards making electric planes a reality.

We also need governments to support efforts to decarbonise aviation. In particular they must reform aviation taxes to incentivise efficient behaviour, fund research and development in new technology and ensure that early movers such as easyJet are not penalised.”

Speaking about easyJet offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights, Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, said:

This is an exciting development from easyJet, which is obviously taking the issue of climate change very seriously. But as is now widely understood, carbon offsetting can only be a bridge to future technological developments, and it will be important to seek out each and every way of reducing carbon emissions. Beyond that, the whole industry needs to come together more effectively to decarbonise this critical sector just as quickly as possible.

If your next business trip takes you to a city served by easyJet, contact your GTM Account Manager to search for and book the best fare and to manage your whole trip.