Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Business travel outside Edinburgh (Climate Conscious Travel)

Details of the University's actions to reduce carbon emissions from business travel.

 As a global university, we rely on international collaboration to achieve the best standards in teaching and research. That means that our staff and occasionally, our students, fly more than 80 million kilometres per year. That’s more than 100 times to the moon and back, or about halfway from the Earth to the Sun.

Over time, our travel emissions have risen significantly to the point that they will likely be the number one cause of our carbon emissions before 2040. In 2016/17, a huge increase in business travel cancelled out all the emissions cut from other parts of our operations.

Flights are responsible for 95% of our travel emissions, and more than half of those are from long-haul international flights where it wouldn’t be easy to take another form of transport.

To tackle this challenge, in 2020 we introduced the Climate Conscious Travel project.

What is Climate Conscious Travel?

Climate conscious travel is:

  • being aware of the environmental impacts of travel and choosing a method of travel that reduces these (e.g. by train rather than plane for travel within mainland Britain)
  • ensuring unnecessary travel is not undertaken (e.g. sending the minimum number of individuals required to fulfil the purpose of travel)
  • choosing not to travel when virtual collaboration tools will adequately fulfil the purpose of travel (e.g. for meetings where a video link would suffice)



Graph showing increasing carbon emissions from University Business Travel between 2012 and 2019
Use the dedicated business travel report to explore the University's travel data.

Roundtable of Sustainable Academic Travel

outline of plane and train showing scale of carbon emissions for these modes of transport
Details of the international collaborative network developed by the University to address business travel emissions within higher education.

Climate Conscious Travel Consultation

sillouette of an airplane against a sunset
In March and April 2020, the University undertook a consultation to gather feedback from staff and students on proposals that would reduce carbon emissions from University business travel.

Sustainable Travel Policy (2021)

looking down the aisle of a plane or train, over shoulder of person wearing headphones.
The Sustainable Travel Policy sets out how all local, national and international travel taken on behalf of the University should take place. 

Take action to reduce your Business Travel

Actions for Staff     Actions for Students

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Contact details



Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability
The Boilerhouse
High School Yards

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