Multinationals have the opportunity to choose where to base their operations for the most profitable return. So they can decide – or not – to minimize their impact by locating production close to the point of consumption. They can also choose to ensure that their production and distribution facilities are climate-neutral. So the oil giant Shell, for example, can claim it is trying to minimize emissions from exploration, oil and gas production, shipping and refi neries: “Our customers emit six to seven times more CO2 using our products than we do making them. A small share of the energy products we make, such as electricity from our wind turbines, emit no CO2 at all during use.”
The US Pew Centre for Global Climate Change (www.pewclimate.org) reports on progress made by Deutsche Telekom, a member of its Business Environmental Leadership Council. The company’s vehicle fleet’s CO2 emissions have fallen about 30 per cent from their level six years ago, thanks to the use of smaller or alternative-fuel vehicles, choosing trains instead of car or plane travel, using video conferencing instead of travelling at all, and incorporating environmental impacts into the company’s technical specifications for vehicle suppliers and manufacturers.
Corporations exert significant influence over the lives of their employees, to the extent of telling them when they have to arrive at work and leave. Staggering working hours would cut congestion and perhaps lead to an even more radical idea – telling staff to work from home. Cutting commuting would help the planet, as well as the ex-commuters’ nerves.
Businesses can develop mobility plans for employees, organize car fleets, and provide incentives for using public transport for commuting to work. They can subsidize cyclists (and even simply provide proper changing and shower rooms for them at work), and buy bicycles or electrobikes. They can also draw up and apply strict rules for duty travel, requiring the use of trains for all journeys below a specified distance.
136 KICK THE HABIT THE CYCLE – REDUCE