Breaking with tradition Mark Bibby Jackson wishes all our Travel Begins at 40 readers a Happy Do Year 2022; one for action rather than words.
2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Tigers are bold and fearless creatures that are not afraid to do things. Humans could well learn from them.
Last year was dominated by the two Cs – covid and climate change. The build up to Glasgow COP 26 led to a number of resolutions committing organisations, corporations and individuals to change the way they behave; to ‘build back better’. The travel sector was not immune from such verbal fervour.
But committing to do something is not the same as actually doing it. Words alone will not stop global heating, we need to act as well, and before it is too late.
Planning to Plan
Over Christmas I talked with my cousin whose job it is to persuade companies to put their climate plans into action. At the moment, he says, many are at the stage of planning to plan. We are all in danger of planning while the planet burns.
It is great to pledge to reduce emissions to net zero by 2045 or 2050, but what do we actually mean by ‘zero’? Most companies have no idea what their current carbon footprint is. So, how can they commit to zero?
The first step is to establish a baseline. This might sound boring – well, it is – but without a baseline we cannot start reducing our emissions. For big corporations this can be both a timely and costly process but without it any commitment to reduce carbon emissions is pure hot air. For smaller organisations such as Travel Begins at 40 it is a fairly easy exercise. There are plenty of calculators on the internet to help get you started.
This is why last year we committed to reduce our emissions wherever possible and to offset where not.
Sadly, we are not in total control of our emissions. As a travel writer I need to travel, and if the destination I am covering is a thousand miles away then realistically flying is the only way. Yes, I can take the train where possible, but even then a train has its own carbon footprint – even though this is considerably lower than a plane. The era of sustainable aviagtion fuels, electric planes and hydrogen planes is coming ever nearer but it is still some way off.
So, we entered a partnership with carbon capture company Climeworks to offset our unavoidable carbon footprint, mainly caused by our website, and another with Trees4Travel to offset my flights and train rides. Clearly, offsetting is not as good as eliminating, but until the technology changes we have to put up with what is available.
While we cannot confirm we are net climate neutral with absolute certainty, we have taken two vital steps. First, we have assessed or carbon footprint and second we have offset that we cannot as yet eliminate.
We have put our words into deeds.
However, as a travel website with a social conscience we also believe we have an obligation to highlight those travel organisations and companies that have gone beyond the planning stage and are putting their words into actions.
In 2020, I started a diploma in Climate-Friendly Travel with SUNx Malta. Last year, we launched eXist, a climate friendly bulletin to highlight travel companies and organisations that are both clean and green. Some examples were Chumbe Island, a wonderful island eco-resort in Tanzania that has preserved the local environment for three decades; Svart a hotel in Norway, which when it opens will be carbon neutral and energy positive; and Ecoplore, a booking platform for eco-resorts in India. We have also featured Tress4Travel and Tomorrow’s Air, which works closely with Climeworks.
Happy Do Year
Travel Begins at 40’s commitment for 2022 is to boldly go where other travel websites fear to tread (apologies for split infinitive). Not only are we putting our words into actions, but we also will put your actions into words, highlighting the best clean and green travel and tourism practices out there.
We will help our readers distinguish between the genuine and the greenwash, so that your travel for 2022 and beyond is more responsible than in the pre-covid era.
Leopards might not be able to change their spots, but tigers can take bold actions. The future of the planet needs us all to act boldly. In 2022 be a tiger. Happy Do Year!
If you know of an organisation that you believe we should highlight for its sustaiable or regenerative tourism practices then please email Mark at [email protected].
Mark Bibby Jackson
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