This week we are announcing one of our newest climate related policies: Low-carbon travel allowances or Climate Perks, becoming a founding member of the scheme and the first and only architectural practice on-board.
The policy is the brainchild of the climate change charity Possible, who see it as one of the best ways a business can impact on climate change. The reason is that globally, flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases despite the fact that only 5% of the world’s population have ever stepped foot on a plane. Worryingly, it is anticipated to take up to around 40% of the UK’s Paris-compliant carbon budget, putting pressure on other sectors to reduce further than might be possible. Certainly, we know from our annual footprint surveys (see last week’s post) that the main source of emissions for our staff is aviation, and that it is increasing, so we wanted to do something to help choosing an alternative easier.
Possible found that 50% of people are ready to reduce the amount they fly due to climate change, but only 3% of us actually do, and the reason behind that is that alternative forms of travel often take more time. The solution: Employers give staff an extra 2 days a year they can use to offset this additional time.
Giving away free holiday isn’t something any business does lightly but having declared a climate emergency we feel this is the right thing to do. We feel that this policy does two things. First, it gives a positive solution to a problem, framing the issue as a positive switch to a form of travel that is more relaxing and can be more enjoyable. Secondly, and more importantly, we feel that this reinforces our message to staff that Climate Change is something that is fundamental to our business. If we are willing to give free holiday to get people on a train, that’s a message we hope staff will remember while they are detailing a façade or sitting in a meeting with a structural engineer.
In a week where the Brussels to Vienna sleeper train makes its first journey since 2003 and Sweden looks to add sleeper routes across Europe by next year to reduce the need for flights, we’re excited about the potential for positive behaviour change. Despite the policy only being active since January 1st, we have already had a lot of interest, and already have our first switch having helped a member of staff reach their family in Bulgaria for Christmas. By train!