Sarah Barfield Marks works at Possible, formerly known as 10:10 Climate Action. She tweets at @BarfieldMarks. This article was featured in our latest edition of New Ground, published in mid-September. Here Sarah discusses a scheme called Climate Perks that would allow employees to choose low-carbon travel options to their holiday destination instead of flights.
The number of Brits concerned about climate change has reached record levels - now at 80%. More people than ever are looking to take action, and here at 10:10 Climate Action, we’re working on innovative solutions to make that possible. When it comes to tackling climate change, we believe there’s no such thing as individual action, as every decision each of us makes affects wider social and political changes.
And with flying being the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases globally, collectively reducing the amount we fly is crucial. But time is a huge barrier to opting for flight-free holidays. That’s exactly why we came up with Climate Perks; the scheme which enables employers to offer paid ‘journey days’, empowering staff to choose low-carbon holiday travel. The perfect solution for those who love to travel the world and protect it too.
Government data shows that within the UK 70% of all flights are taken by just 15% of people, and that these ‘frequent flyers’ are more likely to be professionals with disposable income. Helping to shift these travel habits is the quickest and smartest way to keep carbon emissions from planes in check, whilst ensuring those with the most responsibility to cut down are most empowered to take action
We found in research we commissioned last year that 50% of people are ready to reduce the amount they fly in order to protect the environment, but only 3% of us do. This is in large part because it takes longer to travel on holiday by train, coach or boat instead flying. But we simply can’t ignore flying’s heavy climate cost; with a single return flight to Berlin clocking up the same amount of carbon as 13 return trips by train. And as time is running out to stay below dangerous levels of global warming, the truth is we don’t have a low carbon plane waiting in the wings to zip us across the skies.
Climate Perks works with employers to overcome these barriers and enables climate-conscious professionals and employers to act on their values. It also makes it easier to experience the joys of clean travel, by rediscovering the magic of the journey - whether that’s winding through stunning scenery in the alps or waking up after a night journey in the heart of a new city.
Working for a Climate Perks employer means you can choose clean travel without losing out on hard-earned leisure time, by being offered at least two paid ‘journey days’ annually to use for holiday travel without heading to the airport. As we move into the 2020s, organisations will be expected to demonstrate more and more leadership around climate action. As an employer, by coming onboard to Climate Perks, you’ll be a part of getting climate conscious travel off (or rather on) the ground in the UK.
The workplace is central to modern life and by changing the behaviours of those with regular flying habits we can help initiate the shift away from our jet-setting culture and towards a new carbon conscious society. Research shows that if our peers have reduced flying for environmental reasons, we are more likely to make the same change ourselves. We’re also more willing to support action by government to fairly manage overall demand for flying, in line with climate science.
We designed Climate Perks to begin a cultural conversation around high-carbon travel, and inspire wider, and much needed, behaviour change. It also has the exciting potential to unlock positive change at a national (or even international) scale. The more people choosing grounded travel, the quicker we’ll reach the low carbon destination we all want.
If you’re interested in being a part of this pioneering scheme as either a Climate Perks employee or employer, please register your interest at https://www.climateperks.com.