Transportation Emissions @ Work

“Nearly 30% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, but since getting people and things across our big country is key in Canada, it’s easy to overlook the importance of reducing those emissions.”

By Rebecca Spring, Manager of Sustainable Transportation, WWF-Canada

We often don’t view transportation as a solitary activity, separate from our life. Instead we see it as part of our life and business – a tool we use to get products to stores, get to work, visit our friends and family, AND get to that relaxing vacation spot. There’s no question that your product has to get to a customer or that employees have to get to work and often the argument goes – “well, we need to get there from here, so let’s reduce emissions somewhere else”.

The link between transport and profitability makes it easy to see why companies might be slow to address transportation emissions in their sustainability plans. In a recent survey of companies that participate in Living Planet @ Work, WWF-Canada’s employee engagement program, we saw that only a quarter of responding companies have sustainability targets tied to transportation.

Now, a quarter of companies having targets for transportation sounds pretty small, but actually there is a lot more going on – it’s just not being recognized. Luckily there are many reasons that a company might have for making changes that end up reducing transportation emissions. Those reasons (and their tactics) are:

—Cutting fuel costs (by purchasing/leasing more efficient vehicles, down-sizing the fleet, training drivers for more efficient driving behaviours)
—Cutting operational costs (by combining or planning trips to reduce unnecessary travel and driver time)
—Maximizing employee benefits and retention (by offering financial incentives for carpooling or transit use, or facilitating flex-hours or telecommuting)
—Cutting business travel costs (by facilitating teleconferences and webinars).
 
It turns out that most of the companies we surveyed take at least one or more of these actions; it’s just that sustainability may not be their primary motivator.  Or, if a team is motivated to reduce transportation emissions (without a company-wide sustainability target), it is likely a grassroots driven initiative that isn’t recognized for its contribution to the sustainability of the organization.

Based on the results of this survey and ongoing conversations with our partners, WWF is developing programs to help companies reduce their travel-related transportation emissions as well as their fleet-related emissions. If you think your company would be interested in joining us as a leader, please let us know!

We also want to hear about unique ways that employers are reducing transportation emissions – does your company offer contests to encourage “clean” commuting? Do they promote carsharing by having a corporate account? Tell us and we might profile you and your company next!

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