As a company, never mind a travel company, aiming to become actually ‘sustainable’ is impossibly difficult. At times that has made us feel like we are failing which then led to dithering and inaction.
Words by Ed Templeton | 3rd December '20
But doing something, becoming better, improving, reducing, measuring and compensating - in that order - is what we all need to do. This is not about never travelling again, but rather travelling better, and in a more conscious and responsible way.
Tourism is one of the most important and largest industries on the planet. It employs more people worldwide than any other, with millions of families relying on tourism for their daily needs. You can’t just drop that. We would rather join positive voices from within the industry that
So, our aim now is to be Sustainable-ish. That simple change of terminology has been incredibly liberating, motivating and activating.
"There’s no such thing as sustainability. There are just levels of it. It’s a process, not a real goal. All you can do is work toward it." - Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard
So, we’ve signed up to Tourism Declares, an initiative that supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions as per the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030.
Like all signatories, we have committed to the following five actions:
Within the next 12 months, which sets out our intentions to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.
Share an initial public declaration of our ‘Climate Emergency Plan’, and update on progress each year.
We accept current IPCC advice stating the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 in order to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming. We’ll ensure our ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ represents actions designed to achieve this as a minimum, through delivering transparent, measurable and increasing reductions in the total carbon emissions per customer arising from our operations and the travel services sold by us.
Encourage our suppliers and partners to make the same declaration; sharing best practice amongst peers; and actively participate in the Tourism Declares community.
We recognise the need for system change across the industry to accelerate a just transition towards carbon-free tourism.
If you work in the tourism sector please join us and consider also declaring at www.tourismdeclares.com, and follow on @tourismdeclares on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin
We are using the UN’s Sustainable Development goals to structure our approach guided by our friend, yogi and eco-consultant Natalie Fox.
We have chosen 4 primary goals (stuff that we will do) and 3 secondary goals (stuff we can help with or support a partner with) that are most relevant to who we are as an organisation, what we do and what we can meaningfully affect.
One of those primary goals and the one most relevant to this is
Unravelling the paradox of sustainable travel. Aiming to become sustainable-ish by actively working towards reducing our carbon emissions, encouraging sustainable travel and reducing impacts of tourism by supporting biodiversity projects.
As part of our Climate Action goal we are taking the UN’s Climate Neutral Now Pledge.
As well as developing and following a sustainable development plan, we believe it equally important to adhere to the following principles:
We commit to sharing our progress, ideas, successes and failures so that our peers and customers can hopefully learn from our progress and our mistakes.
We don’t plan to make future claims of carbon neutrality by simply paying to ‘offset’ our emissions. The real work is in cutting emissions. Offsetting is what you do with what’s leftover, and only in a responsible, sustainable and bio-diverse way.
As soon as we begin to talk about this kind of thing we open ourselves up to accusations of greenwashing. Hey ho. It’s better than not talking about it and doing nothing.
Traveller numbers will continue to grow over the next decades and the travel industry is a significant contributor to global warming. We believe it is better to be a voice within the industry and join with other voices to push for positive change on a big business, government level. More sustainable means of travel are possible if enough of us demand it.
If you have thoughts, feedback or insights that can help us improve, please email firstname.lastname@example.org