The smoking Amazon rainforest. Australia in flames. It’s never been more clear that we’re in the midst of a climate and biodiversity emergency.
Any travel company, whatever their ethos, is heavily implicated. As an industry we need a bold, unified and immediate response.
That’s why we have decided to follow the example of other industries in declaring a Climate Emergency, and have founded Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency as a way to encourage our peers, competitors and partners in the travel industry to do the same.
We’re delighted that alongside our declaration today, we’ll see dozens of other committed and forward thinking travel businesses also declaring an emergency, hopefully starting a ripple effect across the rest of the industry.
Over the course of 2020 we’re aiming to encourage and enable as many travel businesses, organisations and individuals as possible to declare a climate emergency, then develop and publish their action plans.
By declaring an emergency, travel companies are publicly committing to the following five actions:
1. Developing a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ detailing their planned response.
2. Transparently sharing progress publicly every year.
3. Ensuring their plan focusses on cutting carbon emissions, in line with current advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that, by 2030, we need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below their 2017 levels to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming.
4. Working together with competitors, suppliers and partners to share best practice and grow the community.
5. Advocating for system change across the industry and calling for urgent regulatory action to accelerate the transition towards zero carbon air travel.
We have already published our Climate Emergency Plan for 2020, where you’ll be able to also track our progress.
As we go, we’ll share our progress and our lessons in the hope others will learn from our mistakes. We’ll talk openly and invite criticism. Only by doing so do we have a chance of reaching our goal, not just as a company, but as a society.
No grand claims
While 5% of our revenues go to funding conservation and re-wilding work that has the potential to remove many times more carbon from the atmosphere than enters it as a result of our trips, we’re not going to be making any grand claims of carbon neutrality or carbon positivity by simply paying to ‘offset’ our emissions. We consider such claims to be misleading and a distraction from the real work of cutting emissions in the first place.
By nature our adventure travel style is relatively low carbon – think hiking, kayaking and camping compared to luxury hotels and bus tours. Early indications from our soon-to-be-released carbon footprint analysis point to this.
However, as a travel company reliant on customers flying round the world we recognise that just by publishing this declaration, we are opening ourselves up to accusations of greenwashing. But if traveller numbers are going to continue to increase as forecasts suggest – and few would argue otherwise – it’s our responsibility to engage with the challenges we face head on.
We’ll do everything we can to cut the carbon emissions we have any say over, encourage others to do likewise, and campaign for the wider system changes needed to move travel and aviation especially towards a low carbon future.
If you have suggestions or insights that can help us improve, just email [email protected] anytime.
Here’s to building a low carbon travel industry together,
Founder and CEO, Much Better Adventures