15 April 2008
Poor ethics behind transport companies
Major transport companies operating in the UK are showing a lack of respect for human and animal rights, according to a new report published by Ethical Consumer Magazine.
The report, which presents the most ethical ways of travelling in the UK and to Europe, is published in the May/June 2008 issue of Ethical Consumer. Researchers looked at 20 different categories of corporate responsibility for each of the 23 transport companies rated in the report.
Sarah Irving, the author of the report and an editor at Ethical Consumer, says:
“We have looked at issues ranging from environmental reporting, political activity and workers' rights to animal rights. The companies fail in many categories, but a common feature would be that companies don't take responsibility for their supply chains. We would like to see companies offering staff a living wage and establishing policies on animal rights.”
On the positive side the report notes that train companies like Virgin, EMT and Eurostar have gone a fair way on serving Fairtrade products and to some extent even organic meals.
One of the most ethical options for distance travel within the UK is National Express, whose coaches and trains scored 9.5 out of 20 in Ethical Consumer's ethiscore rating. Virgin (7.5) and EMT (6.5) are also among the best options. The best buys for passengers heading to Europe, according to the report, are Eurolines coaches (9.5) are Eurostar (8.5). Eurotunnel (10) is recommended when using a full, energy-efficient car or a bicycle.
The report lists unethical records and criticisms of airlines, including Air France being accused of continued operations in Burma, and it allowing ill-treatment of failed asylum seekers deported on its flights. Lufthansa's current in-flight sales catalogue lists goods made from meranti wood, which is classified as endangered tropical hardwood.
Criticisms against ferry companies included workers' rights issues at factories in China and Iraq owned by AP Moller-Maersk, the owner of Norfolk Line ferries. Train operator Eurostar was attacked by campaigners in December 2007 after it announced to go carbon neutral as a large proportion of its electricity comes from nuclear energy.
Other brands featured in the report were Jet2 (ethiscore:7), Seafrance (6.5), Megabus (6.5), KLM (6), BMI (6), British Airways (5.5), Ryanair (5.5), Lufthansa (5.5), Easyjet (5), Flybe (4.5), P&O Ferries (4) and Norfolk Lines (2.5).
Some ferry and coach companies received a lower ethiscore than some airlines. However, the report advised readers to prioritise on-the-ground public transport (trains, coaches and ferries) due to them producing lower CO2 emissions.
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Ethical Consumer's unique ethiscore system rates companies on their social, ethical and environmental performance. Companies are rated in over twenty categories across four main headings - Environment, Human rights, Animal rights, Politics. Products are then rated for their positive ethical and sustainability features.