Travel And The Environment

We have seen reports on environmental issues as they relate to travel. We have heard rhetoric, statements of intent, proud boasts, thinly veiled self promotion statements and promises of a ‘greener’ future. There have been board level corporate policies, conferences, business ventures linked to sustainability and a large number of ‘holier than thou’ declarations between competing companies. Strange how many of the leading standard bearers might be viewed as causing the problem like the fuel and energy giants But what has really happened?

I do not think much has happened at all and I am not entirely sure it matters that much if the experts are to be believed. By this I mean that if air travel only represents less than 3% of global emission does reducing this small fraction by an even smaller fraction make the slightest difference in the whole sphere of things? Would a large company not contribute more if they turned their lights and computers off at night? After all if you fly over any city at night the place is ablaze with lights.

I suspect environmental issues are going to become just a matter of travel hype like the exaggerated effect of direct sell, technology and vapour-ware were in the recent past. Perhaps more wistful thinking than worthwhile delivery.

My perception of the apparent state of affairs has been colored by the way sustainability has been slipped onto the back burner while the global recession has been going on. Regardless of what others may say I believe being ‘sustainable’ costs money as you have to invest in it. You also cannot sell if you ground your salesmen.

The only exception to this is companies that need to reduce their travel budget for financial reasons and use environmental issues as a vehicle to do it.

All this may sound cynical from me and maybe it is. I actually believe passionately that we need to do something about the environment but I feel a bit sour when seeing all the hot air being spouted around over travel when the bigger and more significant winning may possibly be neglected. I also object to this issue being used for point scoring and the creation of another large consultancy sales opportunity.

This world has two global threats which are the economy and the environment. I would rather we did not damage the former in order to make an insignificant contribution to the latter when there are so many better ways to do more good. Besides I would be more convinced of commitment if people turned their TVs off standby at night like I do!This post was syndicated from the blog of former managing director of HRG UK Mike Platt.