Driving Change – Part one

Greening your supply chain is a fundamental step in achieving your carbon reduction goals writes Gillian Upton

As if buyers don’t have enough on their hands – driving travel policies by CO2 rather than fiscal targets – now driving change along the supply chain is also on their agenda.

Currently under Scope 3 emissions, companies are only encouraged to measure their suppliers but this voluntary act will soon turn into a mandatory requirement. Buyers will be encouraged to collaborate and engage with suppliers to ensure they have sustainability at the heart of their business practices.

It’s a big ask as there are few standards and accreditation bodies to guide buyers to make the right choices in their supply chain. Moreover, quality of data on their carbon reduction efforts is woefully lacking.

In the past, greenwash marred real progress by suppliers, when boxes were casually ticked on RFPs but today buyers can demand evidence and full auditing of suppliers’ sustainability efforts and achievements.

Another case of smoke and mirrors was offsetting, with some suppliers paying to plant trees rather than reduce their CO2 emissions. Today, offsetting is being used as it should be, only when travel cannot be avoided, reduced, replaced or removed. Offsetting should be a last resort.

In the meantime, buyers should check that any offsetting schemes suppliers are using can be verifiable and auditable. The Integrity Council is helping this drive by setting global benchmarks for carbon credits and offsets. Today, the good offsetting schemes not only plant trees but have wider social impact, on communities, and suppliers can target schemes in areas where their workforce live.

Overall, the travel industry gets a bad rap for its carbon usage but in reality it is making real progress, albeit at a slower pace than hoped for considering that the 2030 goal for the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is only seven years away. Over the next few days, we explore what travel suppliers are doing to reduce their carbon emissions.

First published in Blue Magazine, Summer 2023

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