Business continuity, travel management and climate change are increasingly at an intersect. Climate extremes will increasingly disrupt facilities, travel and supply chains. Businesses will need greater resilience to keep their operations going and travel management programmes will need to adapt and mitigate for a net-zero carbon world. This involves taking travel management to a whole new level.
Truly accountable corporations must fully realise the emissions that business trips create. But they also need to understand how vital travel is in creating agile, resilient and connected businesses, able to cope when floods knock out IT centres, droughts close factories or rising sea-levels lead to office relocations.
The link between the increase in extreme short-term weather disruptions, long-term climate risk, the need for business continuity and the role business travel plays, needs to be universally made. Commitments by firms to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 are only now starting to impact how businesses weigh up their travel programmes.
What are the challenges that lie ahead?
EVALUATING RISK in travel management
Climate change is increasingly seen as an existential threat and a significant risk to business operations. Corporations are now looking at the short- versus long-term risk and where travel management fits in. Some businesses still manage each extreme weather disruption through standard business continuity practices instead of considering the implications of long-term, escalating risk1.
ISO standards such as ISO 31030, which accounts for ‘travel risk management’ can help. It requires organisations to anticipate and assess the potential impact of events, develop mitigations and communicate anticipated risk exposures to their employees. It’s also the role of travel management companies to help businesses equip themselves with information about evolving risks.
Many businesses are still unaware of ISO 31030 as a methodology to help manage duty of care responsibilities and improve travel policy. It’s fair to say the need to access verifiable travel risk intelligence escalated with the emergence of the global pandemic. Risk assessments, and the due diligence performed prior to corporate trips, are now being calculated more frequently and vigorously.
When a business faces significant travel disruptions due to extreme weather events, or suffers the financial impact due to something going wrong with their travel programme, this leads to a series of events where businesses move quickly towards the adoption of a travel risk management solution. The aim is to ensure it doesn’t happen again and the company has less exposure to this risk2.
CHANGE IN carbon emissions REGULATIONS
Changing regulations represent a significant issue for businesses looking to account for emissions. Legislation is changing the goal posts for how corporations deal with climate change as a business risk and how this impacts business continuity and managed travel. For instance, there is now a European Commission initiative to propose a harmonised framework for calculating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, called CountEmissionsEU3. This will ensure the right data is put in place with a common calculation methodology. The aim is to pave the way for the effective decarbonisation of the business travel sector, which is currently hindered by fragmented methodologies.4
EVOLVING TRAVEL POLICIES
While six out of 10 companies have a sustainability policy, only three out of 10 have a policy that includes business travel, according to research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)5. As climatic threats increase, affecting business continuity, there are likely to be additional policies put in place that go beyond the traditional crisis management. Travel policies could also evolve to mitigate the climate risk from business travel, such as longer trips involving multiple destinations rather than many short-haul trips. Tying travel into global mobility solutions and keeping executives overseas for longer or dispersed – so they’re more able to keep the business running from multiple offices and sites where one or two may be affected by climate change – could become a strategic imperative.
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