Business travel - what we know

University travel footprint

We have assembled data on current business travel patterns at the University from a range of sources including finance reports and transaction records from travel providers.

The resulting picture helps identify priorities for the business travel plan as it develops and provides a baseline for future monitoring. The data showed that in 2017/18:

  • Staff and students travelled a total of 38 million miles on academic and other University business, of which 87% were by air – enough to travel to moon and back 140 times; 

  • Flights were responsible for over 90% of the University’s travel-related CO2 emissions, equivalent to slightly more than the total annual carbon footprint of Nailsea; 

  • The total cost of academic and business travel amounted to £5.1 million, around the same amount as the University received in donations in the same year. 


Business travel mileage and COemissions and spend by mode (2017/18)

Historical trends show that the University’s air travel footprint has grown considerably in the past few years, so that flights now account for nearly one fifth of our total known operational CO2 emissions. 


Business travel CO2 emissions (2010/11 - 2017/18)

We aim to report annually on business travel to help track progress and identify areas for further action.

In the meantime, departments can make a start on measuring their own business travel emissions. A Quick Guide to Measuring your Department's Business Travel (PDF, 1,477kB) is available to view.

Carbon intensity of travel options

In general, the travel choices we all make can have a big impact on our individual carbon footprints.

The charts below show the relative carbon intensity of the different options for domestic and international travel.


Source: UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting, Defra 2019. 


  • Air emissions include secondary effects from high altitude non-CO2 emissions.
  • A small notional level of emissions is shown for video conferencing to recognise the energy consumption associated with these technologies.