‘If you are going to a conference in Paris, then take the Thalys instead of flying.’ Since January, Saxion’s mobility policy has also been the guiding force for employees when it comes to international travel. Is a destination within a radius of 750 kilometres? Then staff are expected to take the train. Is flying unavoidable, because the destination is so far away? Then from 1 January 2023, Saxion will offset air travel carbon emissions with €100 per tonne of CO2. What is the idea behind this new policy for international travel?
Saxion’s new mobility policy came into force in June last year. It encourages staff to make sustainable transport choices. Public transport is free for travelling to and from work and for business travel and the new bicycle scheme makes it more attractive to leave the car at home. This is necessary to achieve the ambition of carbon neutral travel by 2050. The intermediate goal is 40% less CO2 emissions in 2024 compared to 2018.
Saxion is also encouraging Saxion staff to make sustainable choices when it comes to international travel. Is a destination within a radius of 750 kilometres? Then staff are expected to take the train. Is flying unavoidable because the destination is so far away? Then from 1 January 2023 Saxion will offset air travel CO2 emissions.
“The idea is of course to travel as sustainably as possible and to take the train whenever possible,” says Wenda Hans. As Sustainability Director she provided input for the new mobility policy. “We only fly when it is really necessary, but when we do we also take our responsibility by offsetting our emissions.”
At the end of last year the Executive Board decided that this should be €100 per tonne of CO2. “Research shows that this is the cost of completely compensating the CO2 emissions of flying,” explains Wenda. “Then you are not only compensating the kerosine emissions, but also the manufacturing of the aircraft and their maintenance.”
Although she is predominantly happy that Saxion is offsetting both the direct and indirect effects of flying, Wenda expects that the level of the amount to be paid will also lead to more conscious decisions: “It is a considerable financial barrier. I hope that it makes employees look more critically at whether a trip is really necessary and also at the number of people taking the trip”.
It is really much more that what we normally see. Normally, I would say it’s about 16 of 17 euros per tonne CO2. Which makes this a real statement, this makes you truly distinctive in the market. It shows true ambition.
Pieter van Hout is account manager at Munckhof Business Travel, Saxion’s travel agent for international travel. He also gave input to the new policy for international travel. “What surprised me and what I thought was really brave, is that the compensation is so substantial. It is really much more that what we normally see. Normally, I would say it’s about 16 of 17 euros per tonne CO2. Which makes this a real statement, this makes you truly distinctive in the market. It shows true ambition.”
Furthermore, Pieter indicates that in terms of train travel Saxion’s ambitions are a bit higher than what at the moment is supported by the market. For some destinations within a range of 750 kilometres it is not yet possible to order train tickets. “For example if you want to travel to Southampton by train. We can supply tickets to London, but we can’t book other train tickets within the U.K. through our channels. He explains that airlines have a form of cooperation where they accept each others tickets. This makes it easier to book a journey if need be. “This is not the case with trains. We want to know for sure that we can offer 24/7 support and that we can change something if necessary or desirable.”
Sustainability and internationalisation
Apart from its sustainable ambition, internationalisation is also a key priority at Saxion. Kim Venema, who is committed to strengthening international cooperation, is more than happy to emphasise this. “This, however you look at it, is of major importance: immersing yourself in another culture and by doing so expanding your skills and competences. Our aim is to offer every student and colleague the opportunity to gain international experience. Whether that is going abroad or staying at home,” she says.
And what do you think about the new policy regarding international travel? “That is really a good step, that it is a requirement [to travel by train - ed.] within 750 kilometres. Travelling by train is pretty good and is getting better within Europe, making everywhere more easily accessible. And in the train you are also a bit more mobile, making it easier to work. These are all advantages compared to air travel.”
Kim sees that the new policy also generates more awareness of sustainable travel. “We already had guidelines for international travel, but they were much more about dealing with the different types of travel class in relation to your travel allowance. It was all very pragmatic, but now it is all being done from a sustainable perspective.
What happens to the money for CO2 offsetting?
Since 1 January 2023, Saxion pays 100 euros per tonne of CO2 emissions from air travel. For a one-way flight from Amsterdam to Vienna, according to the myclimate calculator, there is 0.208 tonne CO2 emissions, which amounts to 20 euros.
For its carbon offsetting Saxion has a partnership with Climate Neutraal Group. This is a not-for-profit social venture. They invest this money, after deducting their expenses, in projects worldwide that offset carbon emissions by protecting, restoring or transforming forests, and small-scale projects for renewable energy (wind, hydro and solar energy).