Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Understanding why we have developed a travel policy

Details of the background and reasoning for releasing a travel policy

Graph showing increasing carbon emissions from University Business Travel between 2012 and 2019
Carbon emissions at the University from 2012 to 2019, split by mode of transport.

Aligning to Strategy 2030

We have exciting and ambitious plans to improve the way we operate, aligning our working practices with the University's Strategy 2030 vision to make the world a better place and achieving our Zero by 2040 Climate Strategy. 

In recent years our travel pattern has become financially and environmentally unsustainable, growing by up to 15% annually between 2012 and 2019. In 2018-19, we emitted over 18,000 Tonnes of carbon (CO2e) and spent over £11m on travel (excluding additional costs such as accommodation, visas, event fees and food). 

See our dedicated business travel report

Climate Conscious Travel

We know that certain travel is essential for our staff and students to further learning, teaching and research. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has helped us identify opportunities to significantly reduce travel associated with some of our activities.

As such, we have agreed that future travel must be undertaken considering the environmental, social and economic impacts, and weighing these against the expected benefits of our journeys. This approach is known as Climate Conscious Travel.


What is Climate Conscious Travel?

Climate conscious travel is:

  • 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)
  • ensuring unnecessary travel is not undertaken (e.g. sending the minimum number of individuals required to fulfil the purpose of travel)
  • being aware of the environmental impacts of travel and choosing a method of travel that reduces these (e.g. by train rather than plane or not upgrading to a higher flight class)

The Sustainable Travel Policy

As part of embedding the Climate Conscious Travel approach, we are launching the Sustainable Travel Policy.

The Sustainable Travel Policy was requested by the reshaping strand of the Adaptation and Renewal Team (ART) and builds on the recommendations put forward by the Universty-wide Travel and Aviation Working Group (TAWG) in June 2020. This policy is co-owned by the Finance Department and the Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability, and was approved by the University Executive in March 2021.

To support the development of a strong policy framework, we have developed four key themes that form the basis of the Sustainable Travel Policy:

  • Use internal University suppliers whenever possible
  • Sustainability and environmental impact
  • Promote value for money
  • Minimising risk wherever possible

Read the Sustainable Travel Policy (1,411 kB PDF)