2020 radically altered the way that businesses see sustainability. In fact, Blackrock itself issued a statement that there was a 96% increase from 2019 in investments into sustainable assets in 2020 (
BBC). This shows us that COVID-19 made companies reflect not just on their current exceptional circumstances, but also on their business models. It made them look at what was really important on a personal, professional, and social level.The coronavirus pandemic woke a sort of “collective consciousness” on sustainability. Ideas for a more sustainable business that were recognized but had long been dormant, were suddenly accelerated and substantiated in 2020. Notions like “we need to be more sustainable, just not right now” have been put to bed. Whereas before sustainability was kept on a low priority, there has now been a real shift in mindset toward it.
What is a “collective consciousness”? It’s defined as “the body of beliefs and sentiments common to the average of members of a society” (
Oxford Reference)—here, to do with sustainability. As we get closer to the deadline to achieve the 2030 Agenda, this collective consciousness could be the key to turning the rhetoric on sustainability around.The sustainability trend started picking up the pace even before the pandemic. The effects of global warming became more clearly visible. Images of the shrinking size of the polar ice caps began to drive the message home. 196 parties signed the
Paris Agreementin 2015 to limit global warming. The “Greta Effect” took the world by storm. “If a teenager can make such an impact, and do so much good—why can’t I?” we asked ourselves. Governments, international organizations, and companies started to set real, scientifically-based targets to help mitigate climate change. Then COVID-19 happened and made us all understand how ill-equipped we were to tackle a crisis on such a global scale.
Picture this. A young man riding his motorcycle in the rust-red, sandy streets of Ghana. He drives past cocoa plantations and banana trees. He pulls up at a solar kiosk on Lake Volta, called SunHut. He sits in the shade of the kiosk and starts working. Above him, solar modules are producing 1 kWh of solar power per hour. That’s enough to charge 80 mobile phones and 80 solar lamps at the same time. Slowly, people from the nearby villages start gathering. They finally have access to power.Now picture this. You live in Nepal, one of the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world. The effects of climate change are apparent everywhere you go. The soil is eroding, landslides are becoming more common, and floods are getting stronger. All because of deforestation and climate change. Finally, atmosfair and AEPC offer you an alternative with the [Biogas Support Program](http://atmosfair.de/en/climate-protection-projects/biogas-biomass/nepal/(opens in a new tab)). Wood is the most common source of energy for cooking in Nepal but it can be replaced by biogas. In fact, one biogas plant can save around 3300 kg of wood per year! Now, your need for firewood is reduced, and erosion is to some extent prevented.
Stories like these are only possible thanks to the dedication and contribution of others. It’s stories like these that drive atmosfair to engage partners like TravelPerk into our initiatives. Back in 2020, we joined forces to create
GreenPerk—a service that gives business travelers and their companies the ability to measure, calculate, and offset their entire travel-related carbon footprint.So, how does it work? Well, TravelPerk’s customers pay €10 per tonne of CO₂ emitted on a business trip. All of those proceeds go straight to atmosfair’s portfolio of projects and are allocated to projects like the ones in Ghana or Nepal. In fact, in 1002 trips, TravelPerk customers offset 282.7 t of CO₂! We contribute to ongoing projects together and initiate, plan, and provide start-up financing for projects that need to get off the ground. Without support like this, many of these life-changing initiatives wouldn’t be possible.
We know sustainability is becoming increasingly important to companies. We know that business travel can be as sustainable as we make it. We know that people are shifting their focus and priorities more towards sustainability.But, what will that look like in practice? We took a look at some of the main megatrends that will define sustainable business travel going forward.