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ESG in practice: How firms are measuring their Scope 3 travel emissions as part of their efforts to decarbonise

One positive side effect of the COVID lockdowns was that the shutdown of practically all business travel reduced corporate emissions.

While some companies had already begun introducing policies to reduce their amount of air, train and car travel, the pandemic forced their hand, and led to some dramatic shifts not only in where people worked, but how they held meetings.

Fast forward a couple of years, and while most firms recognise the part that Scope 3 emissions from journeys plays in their overall efforts to decarbonise, few have been able to introduce granular methods for tracking them and deciding what kind of travel is essential, and what may not be.

According to the CEO of TripShift, which enables companies to measure employee travel with precision and calculate the carbon emissions created, Scope 3 journey tracking is becoming not just about getting a grip on the associated risks and costs, but the considerations for reputation too.

“Understanding people’s individual movements is always going to be a sensitive subject and we ensure that you can set it to turn off for personal journeys, and that the information is secure and anonymised,” said Andrew Hughes. “But we’re finding that companies are starting to think beyond the need to comply with legislation and stakeholder expectations by tracking these Scope 3 emissions, and are also considering how it can encourage individuals to alter their behaviour, and understand the part that we all play in this.

“Those companies are starting to show that they can nurture positive behaviour change in their people, and in tandem create good engagement with their teams by giving them a tool for doing so.”

These “soft measures” have the potential to create substantial impact, with Scope 3 typically responsible for between 60 and 80 per cent of a company’s overall emissions.

TripShift provides automated carbon tracking for employee commutes, business travel and transport, and aims to make its data as simple and visual as possible.

The app has gained greatest traction in people and travel-intensive sectors, such as professional services and financial services, he said, but was now being introduced more broadly into the media and industrial sectors, where emissions are created by logistics as well as trips to meetings.

“Scope 3 can seem the toughest emissions area to tackle, but we’re finding that by making it personal, and a shared endeavour between employee and employer, we’re making reductions tangible and visual, and supporting programmes that companies can reference in their ESG reports,” said Andrew.

TripShift’s intention is to make emissions tracking not so much about reporting, but about intelligence that businesses and their people can act on.

With many companies having committed to Scope 1 and 2 carbon reduction goals, it’s an example of technology that can help to make a dent in Scope 3 emissions too, and add to reputation in other ways while doing so.

The ESG News Review is written by Steve Earl, a Partner at BOLDT.

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