Read the book, see the movie, change the world…

Torres del Paine National Park ChileRecently Darrell Wade, Intrepid co-founder, posed the question, “Is it the end of the world as we know it?” Following on from that discussion, Darrell shares some insight into why Intrepid Travel has been determined to make changes and how we did it…

“Last week some readers thought I was taking an excessively depressing view on climate change – I hope they are right, but the reality of the science is looking very grim indeed. Other readers wanted to know why a travel company would get involved in the issue in the first place.

The answer is simple enough – Intrepid exists to take people from one corner of the world to the other, in order to experience the wonders of this incredible planet. Not only do we have a duty to respect that planet – and ensure it is in as good a shape as possible for our next generation of travellers – but we need to acknowledge that the act of travelling is a significant source of carbon emissions. At Intrepid we prides ourselves on our responsible business credentials – but we can only be truly responsible if we address the full impact of our activities.

But there is a little more to the story! As mentioned last week, in 2005 I read The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, which triggered my alarm. Six months or so later, Al Gore’s documentary film The inconvenient Truth was released, which alarmed millions of others around the world. Intrepid took the unusual step of giving away thousands of free tickets to see the film to raise awareness (let me know if you were one of them!).

Then I had two remarkable co-incidences – it’s as if the planets were aligning for me. I met Tim Flannery twice in a fortnight in early 2006 and was able to chat extensively with him on the second occasion, especially around the politics of climate change – alarming in itself. Then, a few weeks later I was at a function with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Al Gore literally walked in the door, and sat down next to me to have dinner. WTF! To be honest, I assumed he would just be a politician on a bandwagon – not so – I was deeply impressed by his knowledge and incredible personal commitment.

With that I guess the rest is history – Intrepid’s management team decided to get serious and be part of the solution, by setting out to be a carbon neutral travel company by 2010. We embarked upon the (huge) task of measuring our emissions from all our trips and offices around the world – then reducing those emissions where we could, and offsetting the balance where we couldn’t. Finally we audited our processes to ensure that we were indeed carbon neutral and had got everything right – we had. So these days you can travel with Intrepid from Bangkok to Beijing or Marrakesh to Mombasa and there will not be one kilo of additional carbon added to the atmosphere. Sure, we haven’t exactly changed the world – but Intrepid travellers have definitely been doing their bit, and I think we all feel good about that. I know I do.”

Photo: David Beyer, Chile

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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