This is a guest blog from business management graduate Laura Clarke who is currently working with the Capgemini UK Sustainability team.
Laura Clarke

Laura writes:
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey today highlighted the numerous actions the government is currently taking to reduce emissions in the medium to long term. In an article published on Business Green, UK on track to meet emissions goals and deliver low carbon investment, Davey insists the government is on track to have cut CO2 34 per cent by 2020 through actions including EMR, a £500m commitment to advance ultra-low emissions vehicles, and efforts to pressure Brussels to impose a tighter 2020 emissions cap across the EU.

This is the latest in a series of documents and initiatives published by the UK Government since the coalition agreement in 2010, specifically to target a reduction in CO2 emissions. Over £1 billion is now being invested in local Sustainable travel, which seeks to create local economic growth whilst also cutting carbon emissions and reducing fuel consumption, produced by transport in the UK. This has risen from the issue that two thirds of all journeys are under 5 miles.

Public and business-led car sharing schemes, eco-friendly transport services and cycle to work schemes are becoming increasingly common through this Government funding and, last week, more funding became available to councils across England to roll out a fleet of new low carbon buses to help reduce the air pollution in some of England’s largest cities. Further, the UK’s first electric vehicle taxi service using 100% renewable energy is to launch in London this Autumn. Thriev, a green tech start-up company has partnered with British Gas and aims to put 1,000 vehicles on the roads by the end of 2014. Both of these are just two recent examples of the UK’s focus on improving the air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Capgemini UK has been promoting sustainable travel through our TravelWell initiative, our holistic approach to sustainable employee travel, since 2008 when we introduced our five challenging environment objectives to achieve by 2014. As Tony Deans, Capgemini UK CFO says: “Our TravelWell initiative isn’t about reducing valuable face-time with clients; it’s about working more smartly.”
This week, Capgemini launched its first global Smarter Travel Week. Designed to increase awareness of health, security and environmental aspects of business travel, this week saw lots of focus and engagement with employees to initiate a sustained reduction of  our travel-related carbon emissions,  raise awareness of the environmental impact of our business travel and to highlight the investment Capgemini has made in supporting and providing alternatives to travel through increased video conferencing facilities, and by providing all employees with headsets and software to make calls through their laptops.

“Smarter Travel Week sets out to make our people more aware of the environmental impact of our business travel. But it’s not just about the environment. Business travel is also about the safety, security and health of our people while they travel.” Jeremy Roffe-Vidal, Group HR Director at Capgemini.  

During the week in the UK at a selection of our local offices in Aston, Toltec, Telford and Woking, our Smarter Travel Week initiative was supported by local councils with information about local sustainable initiatives around the area. The latter two also had representatives from the council come into the office to engage directly with our employees and promote the benefits of car share, cycling and becoming more aware of alternative sustainable travel methods.

This level of engagement with Capgemini employees is incredible and takes us another step closer to raising our awareness of travel; considering the necessity of business travel and whether the communication tools that we currently have in place are just as effective as a face to face meeting, thus achieving our environment target of reducing travel emissions by 30% by 2014.