Blog Action Day 2009: The Corporate Travel Budget - Time To Include Cost For Carbon

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. The 2009 topic is climate change.

Corporate managers are very used to working within budgets. They carefully plan for the costs associated with meeting their departments’ annual objectives and executing strategies. Their budgets likely include the costs of employees traveling across the country or around the world. But what about the carbon emissions associated with this type of travel? Who’s accounting for these?

If emissions associated with corporate travel were regularly included in carbon footprints, they could account for some 20 percent of a company’s total emissions. In fact, Motorola included business travel in its most recent carbon footprint. If my math is correct, the company’s business travel accounted for 20.5 percent of its overall footprint.

Today, most companies calculate their carbon footprints by only including direct and indirect emissions from their manufacturing facilities and internal operations – known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 – while not including emissions from corporate travel, which falls into Scope 3. But things may change soon, as new emissions regulation and carbon disclosure standards are on the horizon.

For now, corporate managers may want to start rethinking how they budget for employee travel expenses by including a cost associated with travel-related carbon emissions. The city of San Francisco is ahead of this curve. Last February, the mayor ordered all city departments to not only declare how much they plan to spend on air travel, but to also pay 13 percent of their air-travel costs into a city carbon-offset fund, which will be used to pay for local emission reduction projects. This is a good tactic that may actually work to trim corporate travel – and related emissions – in the future.

-- Liz Gorman, Vice President


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