Working from home necessary to save fuel, says global energy watchdog

Working from home and avoiding any business travel if an alternative can be found are two of the 10 recommendations the International Energy Agency has released as the global fuel crisis starts to impact.

The recommendations released on Friday (18 March) have been made to try and preserve the dwindling bank of oil accessible to many countries. It said that around one-third of jobs in economies can be done from home, and could reduce the dependence on the 2.7 million barrels of oil that commuting to work relies on each day.

There is a tangible impact from working from home, said the report showing that if staff worked from home just one day per week it would save around 70,000 barrels per day of oil use, while working from home for three days would avoid using 500,000 barrels per day in the short term.

During the height of the pandemic, virtual business meetings were common practice and the Australian government actually supported the practice by allowing them to be legally used as part of company legislation.

The IEA said in light of the fuel crisis the continued use of virtual meetings can be an effective substitute. It recommended that a significant reduction of around two out of every five flights taken for business purposes is feasible in the short term, based on the notable changes witnessed during the COVID pandemic.

Already, several major corporations such as HSBC, Zurich Insurance, Bain & Company and S&P Global have announced targets to cut their business travel emissions by as much as 70 per cent and as an added bonus reducing business travel can play a role in meeting ESG goals and help reduce corporate carbon footprints.

“Before the outbreak of the pandemic, about one-fifth of passenger trips by plane in advanced economies were for business purposes,” the IEA said in its report. “Business travel was hit harder than other categories of passenger air travel during the pandemic, dropping to historic lows. High oil prices may disincentivise airlines to operate underutilised routes in response to reduced business travel. But, to maximise the impact, governments can provide flexibility on flight slot allocations so as to minimise the occurrence of ghost flights.”

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