CO2 emissions from business travel and mailing

Part 2 of our mini-series looked at the paper consumption of European companies and the potential for savings. In the third and final part, we now take a look at business travel, postal delivery and the CO2 emissions caused by it.

It is common practice for contract negotiations and especially contract conclusions to be conducted in person. Although email has helped reduce business travel, business people still account for 12% of all air travelers.[1] In 2018, global CO2 emissions from business travel by air were 89.6 million tons. Intra-European and intercontinental flights to and from Europe (excluding the U.K.) accounted for 27.5 million metric tons of CO2.[2] This represents about 0.7% of Europe's total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The carbon footprint of motor vehicles used for business travel is even worse. Taking Germany as an example, in 2018, 204 billion kilometers were traveled by car for business travel.[3] This released about 28 million tons of CO2 - 3.3% of Germany's annual emissions.[4]

These figures show that business travel has an enormous impact on total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This does not yet take into account emissions caused by travel to and from the airport and rail travel.

The negotiation tool as well as the digital signature are perfect tools for our customers to negotiate and sign contracts and documents without leaving the office or home. By using PACTA, we expect that companies and lawyers can reduce business travel by 10 - 20%. Offsetting 10% of the CO2 emissions caused by corporate air travel in Europe (28 million tons of CO2) would require planting about 280,000 trees.[5]

Sending legal documents by mail is also responsible for high CO2 emissions. In Germany alone in 2018, 14.2 billion letters were sent via postal service providers.[6] With an average CO2 emission of 20 grams per letter, this translates to an annual impact of 284,000 tons of CO2.[7]

The figure may seem comparatively low, but the example only covers domestic German letter mail. International shipments and particularly CO2-intensive express and courier deliveries must also be taken into account. Unfortunately, the data available on this is unclear. However, the total CO2 emissions of Deutsche Post DHL Group of 29 million tons in 2019 show the CO2 intensity of this industry, even if the trend toward climate-friendly delivery methods is clearly visible.[8]

A study by GlobalSign has shown that digital document processes can save 85% of postal shipping.[9] In addition to the positive ecological impact, several thousand euros are also saved here. With its holistic approach along the complete lifecycle of documents, PACTA offers the ideal infrastructure to digitize these processes.

It is important for us to emphasize that we not only support our customers in making their business processes more sustainable, but we are also constantly working to make our infrastructure and day-to-day business as sustainable as possible:

Our cloud servers are powered by 100% renewable energy, are climate neutral and are located in Germany. We keep business travel to a minimum and prefer to hire employees at different locations to keep the distances to our customers short.

Our office is paperless. We only print contracts and documents when the law leaves us no other option, such as for certain employment contracts. We support home offices, contributing to a better work-life balance for our employees.

We will continue to ensure that our products and business processes are aligned with sustainable criteria so that we can continue to make our contribution to a sustainable economy in the future.