Everyone (except the occasional US president) recognises that travelling has an environmental impact, and that it's sensible to try and minimise that. But is it possible to do that systematically without spending more money?
In the business world — where travel management exists as a separate profession within large corporations — views on the subject are mixed. In its annual survey of travel managers, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) found that 61% of firms had a formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy - an increase on 53% last year, which suggest the notion of planning travel more carefully is taking hold more widely.
However, that doesn't mean that the process is very detailed. Only 28% of the companies surveyed actually required reports to be compiled on the emissions generated, which would seem to be a fairly basic figure to compile.
The primary reason for that low level of engagement isn't necessarily indifference: it's cheapness. Even companies which have CSR policies are much more concerned with the bottom line than with saving the planet. According to the ACTE survey, the top business travel concern remains cutting travel costs, an issue cited by 79% of respondents. Just 17% listed environmentally sustainable travel as a concern.
While it might be easy to sneer at those figures, individual travellers aren't necessarily trying any harder. But that doesn't mean you can't develop your own personal green travel policy. Most of the steps are obvious:
Focus on public transport methods. Flying is a "public" method by definition, but you still have a choice of whether to hire a car when you get there.
Offset where possible. Most domestic carriers let you pay for carbon offset activities when you book your tickets. If that's not an option, look at standalone services like Carbon Planet.
The decline in business spending does offer some cost-saving opportunities. With 33% of companies looking to cut business travel bills, discounts across the board might become more likely.
And if you're looking to negotiate a discount, start with hotels. 83% of ACTE members trying to save cash have started with hotel suppliers.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman needs to find out if carbon credits are deductible. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.