How to Reduce Your Event's Travel Emissions
Travel is an unavoidable aspect of any event and it’s the events industry’s biggest polluter. On average, travel contributes 60% of an event’s carbon footprint so, as we all turn our attention to sustainability, shining a light on travel should be the first port of call. In this guide, you’ll understand why sustainable travel is key and how to reduce your event’s travel emissions.
The recently published report from the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative breaks down five key action areas for the events industry, with travel as one of the top five alongside energy, production, food waste and logistics.
Transforming event travel is key to reaching Net Zero by 2050, but it can be hard to know where to start. We’ll tell you exactly what you can do to make a difference.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why sustainable travel matters
- How to reduce your event’s travel emissions
- Things to look out for
Why sustainable travel matters
Beyond snazzy green hotels and vague carbon offsetting programmes, sustainable travel is more than just a passing trend. Your event location and travel choices matter more than you think.
The big picture
On average, 200kg of CO2 is emitted by every attendee, for every day of an event. That’s the same as if all the guests didn’t come to the event and instead drove 496 miles in a petrol-powered car, for every day of the event.
That 200kg CO2 comes from every element of the event - from food production to the venue’s energy supply. But at least 60% of it – 120kg – is from travel, and these are average numbers – international, or multi-day events have an even bigger environmental impact.
To put things into perspective, the global events industry is responsible for more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
There’s more travel than you think
Considering event travel and transportation means looking beyond the day of the event. Suppliers and event organisers also contribute considerably to an event’s carbon footprint – and that’s all before the event has even begun.
Whether it’s heading to potential venue locations, travelling back and forth to make final touches or transporting food and materials to the event, the impact of event travel is bigger than you think.
How to reduce your event’s travel emissions
Transforming travel for your future events doesn’t have to be daunting, here are a few easy steps you can take to make big reductions in your next event’s travel emissions.
1. Be clear and plan ahead
If possible, complete an audit of where your attendees are travelling from and choose a venue location based on this. There are tools that can help you do this…
Then, let guests know the event location well ahead of time, to give them more than enough time to plan their journey.
2. Avoid unnecessary site visits
A site visit is where an event planner and key stakeholders inspect the venue prior to the event. It’s a great way of visualising the space and ironing out any unforeseen issues. It also increases the total mileage of an event.
While site visits often feel unavoidable when it comes to big, important events, there are other options. Consider venues that offer virtual tours so you don’t have to make the journey in person. These cutting-edge 3D tours allow you to experience the space in high resolution without incurring the emissions associated with travel.
3. Keep it local
Booking a local venue and switching to regional events over national or global gatherings is a surefire way to reduce emissions. Similarly, choosing to work with suppliers and contractors close to the venue gives back to the community and reduces the carbon footprint that would result from out-of-town suppliers.
A well-thought-out event location gives you the opportunity to give back to the local community. While events are largely a positive thing, generally speaking, larger events can take a lot out of the community – consider the noise, traffic and waste.
Choosing a local venue ahead of time means you can benefit the community by working with local suppliers and possibly, running programmes, or initiatives for people who live in the area.
4. Make a switch
Encourage your guests to swap their cars for public transport and do your bit to make sure you’re hosting your event at an accessible venue and location that’s well-connected. You can also ensure your venue has additional facilities to support environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as bike racks.
In the invite or follow-up information, provide your guests with all the details they need to plan a journey on public transport. Include local stations and bus stops, local bus, tram or train routes that pass close to the venue.
5. Offer a green alternative
For larger events, you could organise a transport service. Low-carbon coach options such as Tuned in Travel, Big Green Coach and Westway Coaches are just a few practical examples of sustainable transport that significantly cuts down the number of vehicles on the road.
6. Consider hosting virtual events
While switching to virtual events won’t completely eradicate your event emissions, you can make considerable carbon emission savings. Virtual events work particularly well for talks and panel discussions. You don’t need to be limited to what you can achieve yourself over Zoom or teams. Events agencies are now adept at running slick virtual and hybrid events that provide great guest experiences.
Our Meetings & Events team can help you plan any event – in person or otherwise.
Things to look out for
So, what does sustainable travel look like? Keep an eye out for some of these initiatives and certifications in venue collateral when planning your next event.
EarthCheck – A science-backed global certification programme for events, hotels, tourism companies, destinations and governments.
GSTC Criteria – A global criteria to ensure sustainable travel and tourism from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Travel by B Corp – A UK-based initiative from B-Corp-certified travel and events companies.