The impact of remote work on greenhouse gas emissions from transport is moderate

Together with Ramboll Finland and Telia, MDI produced a report for the Prime Minister’s Office on the effects of remote working and new transport services on greenhouse gas emissions. The report forms part of the preparation process of a roadmap towards fossil free transport.

The increase in remote working reduces commuter traffic across all modes of transport. Based on the report#s findings, it is clear that remote working has only short-term effects on the amount, orientation and mode of travel of both business and non-business trips but a long-term impact on housing and workplace choices and thus on overall mobility. As a result of working remotely, the daily commute is not undertaken while the propensity to undertake other trips, such as those for shopping or hobbies also changes. The impact of remote working on transport-related greenhouse gas emissions will also decrease with the renewal of the nation’s car fleet. If commuting is undertaken with zero-emission cars, the reduction in commuting as remote work increases will no longer have such an impact on emissions.

The report examined the development of the prevalence of remote work through three scenarios. In 2019 there were about 357 000 remote workers in Finland on a regular basis, while during the corona pandemic in 2020 there were about 790 000. According to the estimate prepared in the report, the number of remote workers in 2030 will be 577 000 rising to 582 000 by 2045. According to the maximum scenario there will be as many as 811 000 remote workers in 2045. The report states that the impact of remote work on greenhouse gas emissions from transport will be, at the most 0,125 megatons in 2030 and 0,082 megatons in 2045. The impact on emissions is thus moderate, but still significant as part of the country’s overall emission reduction measures.

The report consisted of a literature review, an analysis of mobile network data and a scenario review. The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The report: