Minimising business travel

As a result of the substantial cuts we have achieved in CO2 emissions from power consumption and heating since 2003, business travel easily constitutes Swiss Re’s largest emissions source today. Since the business trips our employees take are ultimately driven by client needs, they are difficult to influence. However, we have taken several measures to reduce the need for business travel and to curb unnecessary business trips.

For a start, we have built up a dense network of video conferencing equipment across the Group. Recently, we replaced these facilities with state-of-the-art technology, which creates a real-time, life-size virtual meeting experience in specially designed rooms. By the end of 2018, we had a total of 159 video conference facilities worldwide. In total, we hosted 97 617 video calls in 2018, amounting to 70 249 hours.

We continuously monitor all travel budgets and collect travel data centrally. Furthermore, we introduced an internal carbon levy on air travel in 2014, which uses the “polluter pays” principle. It allocates the costs of the Voluntary Emissions Reductions (VERs) we need to buy to offset our CO2 emissions to the Group’s Global Functions in proportion to their respective share of air travel; previously they had been borne centrally by Group Finance. This internal price on carbon heightens awareness of travel costs among our managers and employees and creates a further incentive to reduce air travel, in addition to flight costs.

Despite these measures, the amount of kilometres travelled per employee and the associated emissions increased for a number of years, mainly driven by our continued expansion in high growth markets. After stabilising in 2017, the average total distance travelled by each of our employees decreased by 6.0% in 2018.