How Much Is This Flight in Carbon?

October 6, 2009
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Is there a “carbon dividend” for the weak economy – a reduction in CO2 emissions due to less economic activity? I would really like to know. If you have followed the recent G20 summit, you may have noticed that in spite of the rampant recession the issue of carbon dioxide emissions was still on the agenda, along with international stimulus packages and banking rules. For good reasons. The perils of global warming are still there and, in the future, we will have to pay a great deal more attention to the balance between prosperity and sustainability that we strike. And I, for one, want to be able to do this in an informed way. I want the facts at hand, just as anyone of our business intelligence customers wants his employees to make informed decisions. Maybe we will have this sooner than many people expect.

For there is an interesting discrepancy here: We are used to hearing (from political commentators, after events like the G20) that not enough progress has been made on the climate issue. But what seems to elude these commentators completely is the progress made outside the political sphere, in the private sector. More and more companies, start-ups as well as



Is there a “carbon dividend” for the weak economy – a reduction in CO2 emissions due to less economic activity? I would really like to know. If you have followed the recent G20 summit, you may have noticed that in spite of the rampant recession the issue of carbon dioxide emissions was still on the agenda, along with international stimulus packages and banking rules. For good reasons. The perils of global warming are still there and, in the future, we will have to pay a great deal more attention to the balance between prosperity and sustainability that we strike. And I, for one, want to be able to do this in an informed way. I want the facts at hand, just as anyone of our business intelligence customers wants his employees to make informed decisions. Maybe we will have this sooner than many people expect.

For there is an interesting discrepancy here: We are used to hearing (from political commentators, after events like the G20) that not enough progress has been made on the climate issue. But what seems to elude these commentators completely is the progress made outside the political sphere, in the private sector. More and more companies, start-ups as well as long-established ones, are discovering that ecologic solutions can be real business. Taking a hands-on approach, they are coming up with more and more workable ideas to measure and reduce their carbon emissions.

Sabre, an American company that offers travel management and services, is an good example for this. Its computer reservation system enables clients such as travel agents to check the availability of flights, railway ticket and hotel beds and, of course, book them online. With all of the necessary data being available in its Teradata Warehouse, Sabre has developed a sophisticated carbon calculator that estimates the total CO2 emission caused by these activities.

Sabre can now extend its service to travel agents by providing additional information that may be relevant to a growing number of eco-sensitive customers, including corporations with a green traveling policy. They will prefer airlines with cleaner aircraft, the most direct flight routes and, if available, generally less energy-intensive means of travel. Such a service will also help these corporations to generate the exact carbon footprint they want to have. And that’s not the end of it: Sabre could make use of its extensive database to find best green practices for a broad variety of clients. As for private travelers: they will be able to make their personal trade-offs between price, speed and climate-friendliness according to their personal preferences. And take satisfaction in their virtual “carbon dividend” if they choose to.

Here in Europe we are also currently working with a number of manufacturing companies to track at a detailed level the carbon footprint of each individual unit produced (materials, transportation, etc) so that can be audited and even exposed to the consumer, proving that Green initiatives are now seen as both good business and social sense by leading companies.

 

Niall O’Doherty