Progress is finally being made towards the creation of a harmonised global standard for calculating transport emissions but there is still a long way to go.
This was the conclusion of a panel discussion at this week’s inaugural GBTA Sustainability Summit, held in Brussels.
Delegates heard that IATA is piloting a new emissions calculations methodology, CO2 Connect Tool by IATA, with American Express GBT and says it is also talking to other TMCs and organisations interested in trialling it.
Speaking on the panel, Michael Schneider, Senior Director Sustainability for IATA, insisted airlines are now more willing to share emissions information but admitted that it was viewed as a competitive area and some data was regarded as sensitive.
The tool provides users with carbon emissions calculations based on best practice industry methodology approved by the IATA Passenger Standards Conference (PSC).
But Schneider admitted that in order to gain the complete trust of users, the calculations need to be independently verified.
Meanwhile, by the middle of next year the European Commission plans to unveil an EU framework for harmonised measurement of emissions from air travel, plus rail and road.
Both initiatives aim to increase transparency to help corporates calculate and report their transport emissions and, ultimately, help promote the uptake of lower-carbon options.
Earlier this year the GBTA issued a paper outlining its position on the European Commission’s plans and said it believes that using a harmonised method both for calculating and reporting transport emissions should be mandatory but “with necessary adjustments for SMEs, and with the European Commission providing the basic tools for supporting the new requirements, to make sure there is no barrier to entry”.
Dan Rutherford, Program Director at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told delegates there were encouraging steps being taken but said there was still much fragmentation, with different methodologies giving different results.
He said corporates should not wait for the perfect emissions data before making simple but effective changes to their travel behaviours.
Using the memorable acronym, he advised delegates to fly like a NERD, with N standing for prioritising flights on newer aircraft, E for opting to fly in economy class, R for choosing regular, medium-sized jets (which are more fuel efficient than regional jets or larger aircraft with four engines), and D standing for flying direct.
He said of all of those measures, flying in economy instead of business class would have the most significant impact.
Shelley Fletcher-Bryant, Senior Director, Sales & Client Relationship Management Advito, agreed that corporates should not put off taking carbon reduction steps due to lack of verified data.
She said Advito had decided to develop its own carbon emissions calculation, which has since achieved certification under the ISO 14064 and ISO 14065 environmental management standards, because it found travel managers and buyers were getting inaccurate emissions reporting – sometimes two to three times lower or higher.