Achieving our target

Four main actions will enable every member of staff, at every level of seniority, in every Service, School and Institute to contribute to achieving this target. Our sustainable travel decision aid contains suggestions for each stage and links to useful resources.

Avoid travelling where possible

Use alternatives instead, such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing. We now have a lot of experience of that.

Identify opportunities to fund and use technological solutions for virtual working in grant proposals

Especially to support partner organisations which do not have access to high-quality virtual working technologies.

Choose public transport (such as trains or buses) when travel is required

The University’s expectation is that:

  • Travel by train and other forms of public transport will be the default option for travel within the UK, with domestic flights only taken where there is specific justification, as discussed with your line manager, eg, for a person with caring responsibilities or as a reasonable adjustment for people with disabilities.
  • This principle applies even where taking the train is more expensive option.
  • Staff and postgraduate research students will avoid taxis unless there is specific justification (such as safety).
  • Line managers will support staff in taking sustainable travel options even when this requires more time and cost. Train travel can offer opportunities for off-line working.

Maximise the value of any given travel episode

For example,  combine opportunities for further research links when attending a conference.

Target for reducing business travel emissions

Maintaining reductions in emissions from business travel that we have experienced since COVID will support the University of Glasgow’s commitment to its net-zero emissions target. We have set an important target, taking into account that it must be achievable in the context of our vital international collaborations.

Our target for sustainable business travel is to reduce emissions from Business Travel from 13,194 ton CO2e in 2018-19 to 5597 ton CO2e in 2029-30. This equates to a reduction of 7.5% year on year, and is in line with recent advice from the United Nations’ Environment Programme.

To support these actions, the university will

  • Ensure that guidance and policies on reducing carbon emissions from business travel are proportionate, fair, and equitable, seeking to redress existing inequalities within the sector (eg. by gender, career stage, global inequalities of opportunity, caring responsibilities, disability and other protected characteristics).
  • Adapt promotion criteria so that staff who reduce or eliminate international travel are not disadvantaged.
  • Build on staff experiences of working from home during the COVID-19 crisis to prioritise the use of videoconferencing facilities accessible to all staff, with appropriate guidance and support on their use.
  • Support and promote the use of alternative means of disseminating research and interact with peers, collaborators and stakeholder, such as social media, including advice on how to gather and evaluate social media “reach” [see Social Media: getting Started].
  • Ensure good communication with line managers to prioritise low carbon travel for all staff in decision making about travel.
  • Seek to obtain discounts for low-carbon travel where possible, through the bulk purchasing of season and other tickets from travel providers and developing sustainability discount agreements with, eg NextBike, ScotRail with the University’s travel agent providing lower carbon travel options at the time of travel requests.
  • Ask applicants for internal grants to comment on sustainability/ environmental footprint on all internal grant applications.
  • Advocate for changes in travel patterns throughout the higher education sector, in collaboration with other HEIs and funding bodies, eg. ensuring advice and support for grant application budgets seeking to include sustainable travel. 

To support these actions, staff can:

  • Use the decision aid to support decisions for every episode of travel.
  • Ensure that grant applications consider (and include budget items where appropriate) for technological alternatives to travel, increased costs of domestic and continental European travel by train (including time commitments) and the distribution of travel amongst team members. Alternatives to travel should be particularly emphasized when all partners have appropriate technologies to support virtual working while support for technological infrastructure (eg. hardware, software, mobile data) should be considered for applications with partners where virtual working is not currently a feasible option. Advice on the eligibility and suitability of including various travel alternatives in funding applications is available from GCID, RSO, and the relevant funding body.
  • Promote the use of alternatives to travel (including remote access) among their teams, with partner institutions, and in planning for events and conferences.
  • Avoid domestic flights and business/first class flights (especially for shorter international flights) unless there are specific justifications (such as reasonable adjustment for people with disabilities).

Graph: Carbon intensity of long-haul flights

kg C02e per passenger km