Sustainable Business Travel Working Group

Sustainable Business Travel Working Group

As outlined in the Aberdeen 2040 strategy,  we are committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2040.  Business travel (both domestic and international) currently underpins a cross-section of University activities, including education, research and student recruitment.

However, the environmental impact of travel, particularly in relation to carbon emissions, has resulted in us taking a fresh look at how we conduct these essential elements of our core business.  Therefore, the Sustainable Development Committee has established a Sustainable Business Travel Working Group to develop recommendations on how we approach business travel in future.

We recognise that there will be diverse views on this topic across the University community and so the Working Group is committed to taking our work forward in an open and transparent manner that will enable us to gather as many perspectives and views as possible.  

My colleagues and I on the Working Group are looking forward to engaging with you over the coming weeks as the consultation process gets underway.

Best wishes

Gary Macfarlane
Chair of Sustainable Business Travel Working Group

Terms of reference

1.       Overall Purpose

The University of Aberdeen is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2040 as outlined in the Aberdeen 2040 strategy.  Travel (both domestic and international) currently underpins a cross-section of University activities, including education, research and student recruitment.  However, the environmental impact of travel, particularly in relation to carbon emissions, means that a fresh approach to how we conduct these essential elements of our core business is required.

Therefore, the Sustainable Business Travel Working Group has been established to make recommendations to the Sustainability Steering Group on (i) a revised institutional approach to ensuring that travel identified as being essential to University core business is undertaken in a sustainable manner and (ii) ensuring that appropriate carbon off-setting activities are implemented where required.

Specifically, the Sustainable Business Travel Working Group will:

1.1 Consider the links between, and impacts arising from, University travel for business purposes and carbon emissions;

1.2 Consider the findings and recommendations arising from internal and external reviews of sustainable travel e.g. carbon-offsetting for business travel to support research grant applications (in line with new funding body requirements) and the Aurora Network Travel Codex;

1.3 Develop a suite of Guiding Principles to underpin and inform the institutional approach to travel for business purposes and the associated approach to carbon off-setting;

1.4 Draw on input from internal and external stakeholders and oversee the commissioning of any external specialist support as appropriate to:

  • Identify core essential activities which will involve a partial or full requirement for staff/students to travel (domestic and/or international) on University business;
  • Identify core essential activities which could successfully be delivered via an alternative approach not involving travel; and
  • Consider recognised best practice, legislative requirements and the expectations of external funding bodies in relation to reducing carbon emissions and carbon-offsetting practices associated with business travel.

1.5 Recommend appropriate communication, consultation and staff engagement mechanisms to support the implementation of the Guiding Principles of Sustainable Business Travel.

 

2.       Composition and Membership

2.1     The Sustainable Business Travel Working Group will comprise the following:

  • Gary Macfarlane, Dean of Interdisciplinary Research & Research Impact (Chair)
  • Alan Speight, Vice-Principal (Global Student Recruitment)
  • Adam Price, UCU Representative on Sustainability Steering Group
  • Qatar Campus Representative on Sustainability Steering Group
  • Josefine Bjorkqvist, PGR Representative on Sustainability Steering Group
  • John Barrow, Dean for Entrepreneurship & Employability
  • Liz Rattray, Director of Research & Innovation
  • Helane Gannicliffe, Head of Procurement
  • Fraser Lovie, Policy Adviser
  • Chris Osbeck, Transport & Waste Manager
  • Joe Whimster, Head of International Recruitment
  • Sacha Nicol, HR Partner
  • Nadia Degama, Qatar Campus Representative
  • Heather Crabb (Clerk)

Consultation process

We recognise that there will be diverse views on sustainable business travel across the University community and so the Working Group is committed to taking our work forward in an open and transparent manner that will enable us to gather as many perspectives and views as possible.   In this connection, we are planning the following engagement activities as part of our consultation process.

Survey

An online survey has been developed to gauge views and attitudes across the University towards the role and importance of business travel.  It also seeks to identify what incentives or other measures we could consider in seeking to reduce the emissions impact of that travel, without undermining our core activities.  The survey is now live and will remain open to receive responses until Wednesday 15 December.

Focus Groups

A series of Focus Groups will be hosted (via Microsoft Teams) as part of the University-wide consultation exercise. Please note that some sessions have been specifically allocated for the views of early career researchers. Focus groups will take place on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 24th November 10:00-11:30 (All staff) Register here
  • Friday 26th November 13:00-14:30 (All staff) Register here
  • Monday 29th November 14:00-15:30 (Early Career Researchers) Register here
  • Tuesday 30th November 10:00-11:30 (Postgraduate Researchers) Register here
  • Thursday 2nd December – 13:30-15:00 (Postgraduate Researchers) Register here
  • Monday 6th December 11:00-12:30 (Early Career Researchers) Register here
  • Wednesday 8th December 09:30-11:00 (All staff) Register here
  • Friday 10th December 10:00-11:30 (All staff) Register here

The Focus Groups will consider the following themes:

  • Incentives to Travel Less or to Travel via Sustainable Modes
  • Hybrid Conferencing
  • Equitable Travel
  • Tackling Internal UK Flights
  • Authorisation and Management of Travel

There will be an opportunity to raise additional topics in the focus groups that you feel should be considered when developing recommendations for Sustainable Business Travel.

Written submissions

We fully appreciate that not everyone will feel comfortable in participating in a group discussion.  Therefore, a dedicated email address (sustainablebusinesstravel@abdn.ac.uk) has been established for members of staff to submit written comments, reflections and views in a secure and confidential manner.  This mailbox is now active so submissions can be received with immediate effect and it will remain open until Wednesday 15 December. 

Please be assured that all feedback received as part of this consultation process will be treated in a confidential manner and will not be attributed to any individual(s).  If you have any problems in accessing any of the consultation process mechanisms, please contact Heather Crabb, Clerk to the Working Group (h.crabb@abdn.ac.uk).