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Videoconferencing is set to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change, by acting as an alternative to business flights and bringing into question the validity of airport expansion plans.
Travelling Light, a new report by WWF-UK has found that 89% of the FTSE 350 companies expect they will want to fly less over the next 10 years.
Air travel is the transport sector with the second highest impact on climate in Europe and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions in the UK. International travel is a major driver of aviation growth, representing 22% of total passenger trips.
“Our report has revealed that there is a real appetite among many of the UK’s biggest businesses to reduce the number of flights they take,” says Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK. “For many companies, travel is a major contributor to their carbon footprint - more than fifty per cent in some cases - and green alternatives such as videoconferencing not only provide a swift solution for cutting carbon, they can also save businesses time and money. In the current economic climate, and with increasing carbon accountability, videoconferencing is an easy win for businesses.”
If aviation continues to grow unchecked, independent analysis suggests it could consume the UK’s entire carbon allowance by 2050.
Greater carbon accountability is not the only reason why more companies are seeking to reduce their business travel, or switch to lower carbon alternatives. Higher oil prices have pushed up the cost of air travel, at a time when the economy is slowing down.
If all European companies were to cut their business travel by 20% and use video or audio conferencing instead, some 22 million tones of CO2 would be saved each year, the report said.
“Videoconferencing is a useful communication tool and we anticipate further growth in the use of our videoconferencing facilities as a result of our continued efforts to reduce staff travel”, said Andrew Cave, Head of Corporate Responsibility at RBS Group, one of the surveyed companies.
“Our use of videoconferencing also fits well with our continued efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of our business, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.”