May 18, 2024

Is CSRD driving you to drink?

After a three-month detox, Scott Wylie at TripStax is managing to keep his beer intake under control, but could CSRD tip him over the edge?

I’m pleased to announce I successfully honoured my pledge to avoid alcohol for the first quarter of 2024. Strangely, now I’m officially back on the beer, I want far less of it.

That said, if there’s one thing that might make me reach for a Stella, and I suspect many travel managers feel the same, it’s the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. CSRD came into effect for many companies (including some in the UK) this year and will roll out to thousands more by 2028.

Don’t get me wrong: I like the aims of the directive. Not only does CSRD make companies state their CO2 emissions, including a separate line item for business travel, it also makes them set auditable targets to reduce those emissions.

The big problem is that so far the EU has not given guidance for how companies should measure their emissions, at least not for business travel.

It’s a particular headache for business travel because, as any travel manager who has spent five minutes studying the subject can tell you, there is no consistency whatsoever in how aircraft emissions (or hotel emissions, come to that) are measured. You can easily see variations of 100% between different online booking tools and travel management companies for exactly the same flight.

One key discrepancy is whether the figure given is based on booked pre-trip data, which relies on historic averages across all airlines; or actual flown data – the kind provided by the new generation of emissions reporting specialists like Thrust Carbon, a partner of TripStax.

Specialist data is more precise with every flight measured by factors, including aircraft type, load factor, freight-to-passenger ratio and flight path. These details are crucial: if an aircraft has to circle Heathrow three times before landing, that makes a huge difference to its emissions total.

So, if you’re struggling with how to get the data right for CSRD, I offer two pieces of advice. First, given there are no EU-prescribed standards to follow, choose a methodology yourself and stick to it. Second, to achieve consistency, you need a centralised data core that applies the same emissions-counting methodology across all data sources.

This is exactly what we have been working on at TripStax. We apply Thrust Carbon’s methodology to data from corporates and TMCs consolidating all their booking sources. This consistency makes it fully auditable even if they use multiple TMCs or booking tools.

Many travel managers are taking CSRD very seriously. They know their progress to net zero targets, including the use of business travel, is being tracked, not just by pressure groups but by investors too. We all have to be much more careful now about measuring, and reducing, travel emissions.

Scott Wylie is Chief Technology Officer for TripStax