That was the recommendation from Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as he spoke to members of the All-party Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group on Thursday.

Appearing live by video conference link to speak to the event, in Westminster, London, Dr Pachauri said reducing business travel would cut aviation emissions.

In many developed countries, the transport sector represents 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

“One important contributor to this source is the growth of civil aviation across the globe,” he told MPs.

“A focused effort to shift business travel for conferences and meetings of all types to video-based communication would be of great benefit in reducing and controlling the growth of emissions from aviation.

“I therefore endorse the concept and practice of video conferencing as an important substitute for business and conference-related travel in the fight to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

WWF are urging businesses to cut one in five flights as part of their One Planet Future campaign.

A report published by WWF-UK in May claimed 89% of FTSE 350 companies expect to cut flights in the next ten years and 85% see video conferencing as the way to achieve that aim.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, chair of the parliamentary group, said: “As Dr Pachauri has said, changing behaviour is vital.

“Cutting one in five fights, the central theme of the WWF-UK campaign, is an entirely realistic way forward, environmentally and economically. So, too, is taking the train whenever possible.”

“That well-known wartime phrase, ‘Is your journey really necessary’, is increasingly relevant in the fight against climate change.

“[It] spells out what modern socially and environmentally responsible companies must do as a matter of course – question the need for flying whenever there is a practical video conferencing or rail alternative.”

Kate Martin

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