This Earth Day marks 11 years since Intrepid Travel set a goal to become one of the biggest carbon neutral travel companies in the world.
In late 2010 we achieved this goal through our Carbon Management Plan and all our offices around the globe officially became carbon neutral. The main sources of carbon emission from our trips (transport, accommodation and waste) are also assessed and offset into renewable energy projects. Since then, we’ve offset over 250,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from our trips and offices worldwide, including over 40,000 tonnes of carbon in 2016.
One of the most urgent problems facing our world today is climate change – a problem that the tourism industry can’t ignore any longer. As a travel company, we knew it was our responsibility to sustain and protect the environment we use and enjoy. That’s why we made a commitment 10 years ago to minimise our environmental impact through our Carbon Management Plan, which helps us to operate our business in a sustainable manner, addresses our environmental commitments under the United Nations Global Compact and outlines our carbon offsetting initiatives.
Here are 5 things you should know about our Carbon Neutral plan.
How is Intrepid carbon neutral?
We work hard to reduce carbon emissions and seek less carbon-intensive alternatives where possible, and then balance the remaining emissions by purchasing internationally-certified carbon credits. To decrease our trips’ carbon footprint, we make sure our trips are low impact by using 21 different kinds of public transportation worldwide, staying in simple, locally-owned accommodation and eating at locally-owned restaurants where the food has been sourced close-by. Offsets are purchased on behalf of each and every one of our travellers, ensuring the carbon emitted from all departures is offset. In our offices and stores around the world, we also measure, avoid, reduce, and offset carbon-related usage and ‘green out’ our office spaces. We’re always looking for ways to reduce the level of emissions generated and follow our Carbon Management Plan diligently. Ultimately we want to maintain our carbon neutrality year after year.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsets are a way for individuals and businesses to balance out their greenhouse gas emissions by allocating funds to emission reduction programs. Think of it like this: if you ate 300 calories worth of gelato in Italy but then burned 300 calories walking around Rome, the net impact (in terms of calories) of eating the gelato would be zero. While it’s not ideal – in that you probably shouldn’t have eaten that gelato in the first place – it’s far better than not doing anything at all. Offsetting carbon works in a similar way, but instead of gelato and long strolls in Rome, it is carbon and offsetting that carbon into renewable energy projects in the countries we travel. At Intrepid, we quantify our carbon usage, and then we purchase carbon credits from various projects to offset our impact. We believe investing in the renewable energy industry will help our economies transition from a fossil fuel-dependant society to a cleaner, renewable energy future.
How did Intrepid trips become carbon offset?
89% of Intrepid’s carbon emissions come from our trips, so naturally we needed to do a lot of work to measure our trip emissions. Our local group leaders initially did detailed assessments of the carbon emissions produced from the transport, accommodation, and waste of 38 of our most popular trips, and then we sent the data to an independent assessor. We were able to use and extrapolate this data across our portfolio of trips by trip style and region. Today, the vast majority of the Intrepid Group’s trips (including our Intrepid, Peregrine and Geckos brands) are carbon offset (that’s over 1,400 trips!).
What carbon offsetting projects does Intrepid invest in?
Intrepid balances emissions by purchasing carbon credits from four internationally verified carbon reduction projects. Since 2007, our carbon offsetting process has resulted in monetary contributions of over AU$1.6 million to these projects.
It is estimated that deforestation accounts for 18% of global carbon emissions. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project in Kenya is aimed at preventing unplanned deforestation and degradation of forests that are home to vulnerable species such as the African Elephant, cheetah, lion, African hunting dog and Grevy’s zebra.
Water Filters (Cambodia)
Investing in this project provides access to clean drinking water for an estimated 400,000 people and saves 43,087 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere.
The Cookstoves project aims to reduce wood consumption in order to protect Cambodia’s forests. The goal of this project is to facilitate a nationwide shift in Cambodia from inefficient exploitation of wood fuel to sustainable and efficient use of biomass.
Wind Farm (Turkey)
This wind farm is a Gold Standard project, which involves the installation of 15 turbines in Turkey, saving 67,570 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.
What carbon offset trips means for Intrepid travellers
Each Intrepid trip offers our travellers a local, authentic, sustainable and carbon-offset experience. Travellers don’t have to worry about additional fees for carbon offsetting, as the offset cost is already embedded in the cost of the trip – averaging between $0.14 and $0.40 USD per passenger per day (dependent on the trip and region). Even with the offset included, these trips are still competitive, ensuring travellers get both the best price for a fantastic grassroots adventure with a reduced environmental impact. Want to know how much carbon a trip emits and is offset with Intrepid? Just check out any trip page under ‘carbon offset’.
Since 2007, we have also offered all customers the opportunity to offset the most carbon intensive portion of their trip – their flight – when they book their air travel with us. The emissions produced from flights are calculated (from departure region to destination region) and the cost of offsetting that flight is then included in the price quoted. Carbon offsets are optional on the airfares we sell, however we do encourage our customers to choose this option. We also assist travellers on how they can reduce their environmental impact whilst travelling by including information in their trip notes about the importance of minimising plastic water bottle usage and even provide them with cloth bags in many destinations.
Want to find out more information? Check out our policy on responsible travel.
Feature image c/o World Wildlife Fund