In the short term there are myriad opportunities for industry players to unlock quick wins. Doubling down on collaboration, cooperation and sharing of data to open up the ecosystem and optimize operations will dramatically reduce waste and increase productivity. For airlines, catering operations present an area where significant gains can be made in terms of food waste and packaging. Since recent Accenture research has revealed that recycling and reducing food waste are two of the most popular sustainability actions for travel companies to take—customers rated only carbon emissions higher—these are examples of targeted action that could have a big impact.4
Accountability for change
Like any major business transformation, sustainability demands clear executive leadership and accountability for progress through appropriate governance. Delivering on the G in ESG means putting the management systems in place, developing the right metrics and reporting transparently.
IAG has created a new board sub-committee for sustainability, and has explicitly linked senior management pay to climate targets. For 60 of its most senior executives, a share of their incentives is now linked to achievement of annual carbon intensity targets.5
“I think more and more companies will do this," says Accenture’s Jesko Neuenburg. “It’s an additional mechanism to make sure that they are taking action in the right places.”
Setting course for net zero
Clear governance is critical to carbon-cutting efforts. According to a recent report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Accenture, clear targets, monitoring and reporting are critical. A Net Zero Roadmap for Travel and Tourism proposes a new roadmap framework for net zero, setting out three different decarbonization target corridors. It is recognizing that some sectors will be able to move faster than others.
The first step is setting the right baselines and emission targets now for 2030 and 2050 goals. Companies then need to monitor and report on progress. The report proposes collaboration within and across industries, and for finance and investment for the low-carbon transition, as well as steps to raise awareness and build capacities.
Build sustainability into your DNA
With the evolution of consumer values and the pressure on businesses to deliver on ESG, sustainability is now a critical component of the travel industry’s future growth.
Aviation leaders need to deliver on a holistic view of sustainability that spans all dimensions of ESG. Accenture’s new model for Sustainability DNA is a guide to that challenge. In our latest report for the travel industry, we look at the Sustainability DNA model’s five elements for sustainable leadership, built on 21 management practices, systems and processes. From supporting international agreements, to investing in new technology to increase operational efficiency, and engaging in collaborations to drive change—the opportunities for aviation are significant. This is the moment to seize them.