MasterCard automates carbon emissions reporting for business credit card users

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The best business credit cards will soon help companies reduce their environmental impact, according to officials from MasterCard and Brighter Planet. The credit card platform and the business intelligence bureau announced plans to integrate cardholders' spending details with carbon emissions data. Select corporate credit card users could then see the carbon footprint of their company travel bookings on monthly statements under an initiative the partners call MasterCard Carbon Emissions Reporting.

In 2007, researchers from the Aberdeen Group revealed that corporate travel typically represents about 25 percent of a company's carbon footprint. According to Brighter Planet CEO Patti Prairie, that figure can rise as high as 40 percent for some businesses. With travel costs and consumers' environmental concerns both on the rise, American businesses wrestle with a complex set of demands from lawmakers and activists. Some industries require company travel planners to purchase carbon offset credits along with each airline booking. Other companies started to analyze route plans to make required trips less wasteful.

MasterCard's partnership with Brighter Planet leverages two powerful data collection resources. MasterCard already tracks cardholders' business expenses through smartdata.gen2, its web-based financial reporting platform. Brighter Planet's CM1 platform measures information about airplanes, rental cars and hotel operations. Cross-referencing that information will allow corporate financial planners to use reliable carbon footprint estimates calculated from employee expense reports.

In a statement to reporters, MasterCard officials revealed the results of a June 2010 study that found as many as four in five American companies expressing interest in "green travel initiatives." According to MasterCard spokesman Jay Singer, the Brighter Planet partnership represents the first time a credit card platform has automated the process of collecting and reporting carbon emissions data based on realtime expense reporting. Select MasterCard business credit card accounts will gain access to the Carbon Emissions Reporting platform later in 2011.

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