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Meeting Reduction Targets: Air Travel

Anyone who has tried to measure the carbon footprint of air travel for a large organization knows it is a difficult task. Gathering accurate and complete data is one of the biggest challenges in completing a carbon footprint.  Below are a few tips for getting started.

What do we account for?

Scope 3 Indirect emissions include all air travel that is funded by the institution. Study abroad travel is also accounted for in Scope 3 emissions.

Where do we find the data?

This is dependent on level of sophistication of the travel process in your institution. Travel data might be accessed from the institution’s travel agency, department heads, financial offices, and/or survey sources.

How do we gather the data?

Air travel data can be compiled and later retrieved using differing methodologies, depending on the maturity of the institution’s travel reporting. For example, an institution might seek to gather:

  • city pair data
  • total flight miles
  • total flights broken down into short, medium, and long haul

When should we collect data?

GHG reports may be compiled once a year but air travel should be reported on a monthly or quarterly basis for ease and accuracy. Compiling the data monthly makes the process easier, more accurate, and more efficient for completing a GHG inventory. Monthly or quarterly reporting also shows opportunities for improvements throughout the year.

Why is it important?

Accurate data is the cornerstone of your commitment and calculations. A more accurate data and emissions assessment leads to better reduction targets, interim milestones and sustainability goals.

Next Step: Calculating GHG Emissions 

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol, a decade-long partnership between the World Resources Instituteand the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is working with businesses, governments, and environmental groups around the world to build a new generation of credible and effective programs for tackling climate change.  It provides the accounting framework for nearly every GHG standard and program in the world – from the International Standards Organization to The Climate Registry – as well as hundreds of GHG inventories prepared by individual companies.

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