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A case study conducted by The Miles Consultancy has revealed the carbon footprint for organisations can in fact be higher in relation to their ground transportation activity compared to their air travel and hotel stays.


The case study, which centred on one specific Fortune 500 global corporation with around 100,000 employees, formed part of The Miles Consultancy’s research and development process for Mobility iQ, the world’s first smart and sustainable mobility super app.

Even before the introduction of the EU’s corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD), organisations were recognising the need to measure and report their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as we strive towards the net zero target of 2050.

The Miles Consultancy were able to research the organisation in question to understand how they capture and report their carbon emissions for all aspects of ground transportation. This covers car rental, taxi, ride hailing, black car and public transport (bus and rail) as well as employee commuting and business mileage reimbursement, given it forms part of Scope 3 emissions.

The startling findings showed us that ground transportation accounted for over a third of the organisation’s total emissions for 2021/22 and more surprisingly, accounted for more than air travel and hotel, the ‘poster child’ according to many when it comes to anything bad with carbon emissions.

Given the period in which the results were obtained from, a reduction in travelling, flying and hotel stays in the aftermath of the covid pandemic could have played its part in throwing up these results. However, there is a counter argument that business travel would have decreased too with the introduction of more hybrid working and a large majority of people exclusively working from home. When business travel saw a rebound and the associated increase in emissions with it, given the return to office for many 3+ days per week alongside hybrid working, emissions in both areas would have increased proportionally. As such, these results remain very relevant and are eye-opening.

Stuart Donnelly of The Miles Consultancy said:

“Our research project clearly demonstrates that ground transportation is a huge contributor of carbon emissions and requires real attention, both in order to measure and report on this data but also to create actionable steps to reduce it in support of reaching our net zero targets.”

The methodology for calculating carbon emissions is based on formulae and factors by Defra. However, common practice at this early stage when it comes to capturing and calculating emissions is to use estimates and assumptions.

“Our findings also align with the recent GBTA Free Now survey, which showed up that 73% of respondents do not measure or currently estimate carbon emissions from ground transportation, mainly due to the complexity of capturing the data in the first place.”

A minimum requirement to be able to accurately calculate emissions data is to have access to the engine type and distance travelled for each journey, something which is still not readily available in your everyday expense data.

As part of the Mobility iQ solution and to support businesses in their sustainability mission, The Miles Consultancy have built Carbon iQ, a digital carbon calculator that can intelligently detect both the mode of travel and distance travelled automatically via the mobile app to calculate the carbon emissions.

This allows businesses to not only accurately report their Scope 3 emissions, thus meeting the new legislation, but also provide the platform to baseline and develop a real tangible strategy to reduce emissions to support our net zero goals. In summary, Donnelly left us with the old adage:

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure and you can’t reduce something you don’t have a baseline for.”

If we are serious about Net Zero, we need to start measuring and doing so accurately.