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New toolkit to promote green business travel released by university aviation researchers

As environmentalists gather at Heathrow Airport to protest against the impact of air travel on climate change, a university research group tasked with helping the aviation industry meet the challenges of expansion has released details of a business toolkit to encourage greener business travel.

The toolkit is one of the first outcomes of a £5 million Government-funded knowledge transfer partnership called Omega. It is led by three universities - Manchester Metropolitan University, Cranfield and Cambridge - and involves six other universities, Oxford, Reading, Southampton, Sheffield, Leeds and Loughborough; Government departments and the likes of British Airways, Rolls Royce, Airbus, Manchester Airport and NGOs such as the Aviation Environment Federation.

Focusing on carbon emissions, the toolkit has been developed by the Institute of Travel Management and academics at Cranfield University’s Business Travel Research Centre to guide those who purchase and use business travel to make it more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The toolkit – called Icarus – is available free of charge online for users to download.

It includes:

environmental travel policy guidelines
recommended CO2 measurement tools
a list of video conference facilities around the UK
video conference practical training exercises
CO2 ready reckoner
FAQs and useful links
The toolkit informs business travel buyers and suppliers of environmental concerns and possible courses of action to reduce their carbon footprint. The intention of Icarus in the first instance is to respond to the trend for increasing corporate social responsibility in business and to encourage and help the UK travel industry to reduce carbon emissions in line with government targets.

Support by Omega to develop the toolkit illustrates one facet of Omega’s broadly based approach to promoting future sustainability for the aviation sector. Developing market and attitudinal measures to reduce emissions is just as important as exploring technological and operational approaches. Omega is working with stakeholders in all these areas.

As well as the comprehensive toolkit, Icarus provides a system of accreditation to recognise buyers who implement the toolkit and succeed in reducing carbon emissions. A further system of awards recognises suppliers who demonstrate leadership and innovation when making their travel products and services more environmentally friendly.

The toolkit includes environmental business travel success stories from companies such as Credit Suisse, Vodafone, Unilever, Pertemps and Whitbread and demonstrates how they have successfully implemented green travel policies without compromising business performance or incurring additional risk.

Participants are encouraged to sign up to the principles of Icarus and add their name to a growing number of companies who support the project. They are asked to declare: “As the travel buyer for my corporation, I fully and publicly support the environmental goals and am committed to achieving Project Icarus accreditation.”

It is the influence of leaders over those who follow which will ultimately drive the industry forward and ensure that business travellers take action to curb harmful emissions.

Other Omega projects, which got underway earlier this year, cover areas such as carbon offsetting and emissions trading efforts, identifying low carbon technologies, biofuels, open rotor aircraft, projections for growth and implications for climate change and community reaction to green noise.

Phil Smith | alfa
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