transport

Encouraging low carbon travel with Climate Perks

A friend of mine recently had to travel to a conference in Europe for work. The company was planning to fly staff over, but after some negotiation, his employers allowed him to take the train. It would be slower, but he would be able to work on the journey.

It’s a fairly common problem. 70% of flights in Britain are taken by 15% of people, an they are often professionals who take multiple flights a year for business. It might be possible to get to the same destinations in a less environmentally damaging way, but there is a time cost that businesses aren’t always willing to pay.

That time cost bites into holidays too. A plane might deliver us to our holiday destination in a couple of hours, while a train or boat could be a much longer journey time – and that’s time lost off the holiday. Some of might want to avoid flying in principle, but might need more convincing before we sacrifice our days off for it.

Climate Perks is a new initiative from 10:10 that is hoping to reduce the problem of lost time for sustainable travel. The idea is get businesses to offer their staff paid ‘journey days’ so that they can travel a little slower, but in a more environmentally friendly way. By signing up the scheme, employers release their staff to live out their values without losing out. The company also gets accredited by Climate Perks and recognised for their carbon cutting efforts.

10:10 are running Climate Perks as a pilot project first, and are recruiting companies who want to take part. It can then be refined and scaled up.

As the website mentions, some companies already do this. The Swedish travel company MTR Express. They reward employees for choosing more sustainable travel options by offering them a paid travel day if they take the train on holiday. The insurance company NatureSave has been running a similar scheme since 2008, with around a quarter of staff taking them up on it each year.

I like the idea of offering ‘journey days’ as a employee perk. It makes it an active choice for the employee, rather than a policy of taking the slower overland travel option. It doesn’t have to become a burden either, since companies can participate from two journey days per staff member per year – you wouldn’t be signing off a staff member for a fortnight while they got the train to Japan.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this one, and perhaps your company might like to apply to be part of the pilot.

5 comments

  1. If someone can suggest a way of travelling from Sweden to the UK by surface transport, I would be glad to hear of it. The Esbjerg-Harwich ferry closed in 2014 for environmental reasons.

    1. I have friends who sometimes drive, sometimes fly, and who are saving up to go by train next time. But I understand there are no easy solutions, and it would be great to see that ferry back again at some point.

  2. This is an interesting idea, although I believe only highly profitable (or highly conscious) companies will be willing to take this up. The idea of what is “workspace” and what is not is still rigid, in spite of a lot of people becoming freelancers and seeking flexible hours.

    1. Yes, it won’t be for everyone at this stage, but the kinds of companies that offer generous employee perks are also likely to have lots of higher paid employees who take multiple flights a year. So in that sense, it could reach the people it needs to reach.

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