ITM Road to Net Zero Summit Helps Buyers and Suppliers Pave the Way to Reducing Carbon Footprint

04 Mar 2024

Reducing travel is not the sole solution to reducing emissions; corporate leaders need to treat carbon emissions data in the same way as financial data; and travel managers need to understand whether the stick or carrot approach works best for their company culture – these were just some of the valuable insights shared by panellists at ITM’s ‘Road to Net Zero’ Summit.

A maximum capacity of 120 delegates, including buyers, suppliers and industry experts, attended the one-day event on Tuesday 27th February at the ME Hotel in London, and many more were on a waiting list for the event. The demand for places was evidence of the crucial nature of the topic and the business travel community’s desire for collaboration and support in addressing the industry’s sustainable travel challenges.

The day began with a session entitled ‘Turning Sustainability on its Head’ when Nico Nicholas, CEO, ZEERO by Trees4Travel advocated the need to turn sustainability from a cost to shared ownership to accelerate change. He also explained why curbing business travel is not the answer to reducing carbon emissions. Replacing the aviation sector’s use of fossil fuels is what is needed long term. “Planes are flying at full capacity; if you choose not to fly, someone else will book that seat. Changing the fuel in the tank is the answer,” he said.

The need to replace aviation’s source of energy was echoed by easyjet’s Head of Net Zero, Lahiru Ranasinghe in an update on the airline’s progress towards net zero one year on from last year’s ITM Sustainability Summit. Key milestones include the airline’s pioneering work with Rolls Royce in building an aircraft engine using hydrogen as a sustainable fuel alternative.

Other sessions and key takeaways at the Road to Net Zero summit included:

· The Crucial Role of Travel Managers in Advancing Net Zero Goals: A panel of buyers shared the steps they are taking to build a sustainable travel programme and the challenges they have experienced on their journey.

· Future-proofing Your Business with Sustainable Business Travel: Clarasight co-founder Philip Charm explained why business leaders should treat carbon emissions in the same way as their financial planning. Understanding historical and projected emissions and costs, and the key drivers behind that data is critical to bringing about change. 

· EU CSRD – making it work for your programme – an insightful session led by FCM Consulting’s Glen Thorsen, Global Sustainability Lead and Eve Smith, Change Management & Communication Lead, demystifying the impact and requirements posed by CSDR on business travel. Interestingly a poll by FCM of attendees prior to the Summit revealed that 53% are planning on making travel policy changes because of legislation.

· Navigating the Path to Net Zero: Strategies for TMCs – a session led by Pippa Stasser-Ganderton, Director- ATPI Halo, sharing steps ATPI is taking to reach net zero and how these initiatives are translating into client-facing solutions. “Waiting for legislation isn’t enough; we need to act now,” she urged.

· An introduction to Travalyst from Head of Global Partnerships Brad West – who talked through the role that Travalyst, and its coalition partners are playing in the drive for clear, consistent and credible sustainability in the travel industry, and how Travalyst is evolving its frameworks to better suit the needs of the business travel sector.

Feedback from attendees at the Road to Net Zero Summit was particularly positive with comments such as:

“the event was really useful and benefited my purpose”
“the speakers/guests were insightful, and a range of topics were discussed”
“this is a great example of exactly why I joined ITM”
“professional, excellent speakers and organised perfectly in a fabulous venue” “excellent content, very relevant, interesting and informative.”

Presentations given by panellists and speakers are available to download via the ITM website here under the materials tab.