Intrepid Travel is the largest carbon neutral travel company in the world. Our 27 offices around the world are carbon neutral and we offset our carbon emissions from over 1400 trips. The main sources of carbon emissions from our tours include transport, accommodation and waste. We became carbon neutral in 2010 and have offset more than 250,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions since.
How we offset
Carbon offsetting is a way for individuals and businesses to balance out their greenhouse gas emissions by allocating funds to emission reduction programs. For example, if your flight emits 4.14 tonnes of CO2, you can balance out these emissions by purchasing 4.14 tonnes of carbon credits from carbon offset programs which work on avoiding or absorbing CO2 emissions, such as renewable energy initiatives.
Still confused? Try this simple analogy. If you ate 300 calories worth of pizza but then walked around for two hours, the net impact (in terms of calories) of eating the pizza would be zero. While it's not ideal - in that you probably shouldn't have eaten all that pizza in the first place - it's far better than not doing anything at all. Carbon offsetting works in a similar way.
There's no internationally agreed upon definition for "carbon neutral". Australia has recently defined carbon neutrality under the National Carbon Offset Standard (July 1, 2010) as "a situation where the net emissions associated with a product or an organization's activities are equal to zero through the acquisition and cancellation of carbon offsets that meet additional criteria". The general principle: to have a "carbon neutral" product or service means to have zero net CO2 emissions for the activities assessed.
Being carbon neutral involves calculating Intrepid Travel's climate-damaging carbon emissions, avoiding, reducing and seeking a less carbon intensive alternative where possible and then balancing the remaining emissions through a carbon offsetting activity. Intrepid Travel follows a project plan which describes the activities and milestones necessary to keep us carbon neutral year after year.
We initially conducted detailed assessments of the carbon emissions of 38 of our most popular trips around the world. With so many trip components potentially emitting greenhouse gases, we had to define clear boundaries of what we would assess and subsequently offset. We decided to concentrate on the main emissions, being transport, accommodation and waste.
Our group leaders, given their experience and expert knowledge of the precise activities, locations and transport modes of the trips, collected the data. We then sent this data to an independent assessor to determine the carbon emissions associated with each element. The scope of components included in our emissions assessment was:
- Transport - all intra-trip travel including flights included as part of the trip, taxis, tuk tuks, boats and trains. As direct emissions from transport makes up the vast majority of the emissions when traveling, carbon offsetting this component is vital.
- Accommodation - all included accommodation from hotels to camping.
- Waste - while we attempt to reduce waste in all ways possible, recycling isn't accessible in all countries we visit. We have therefore considered emissions generated through the average waste generated per person in that particular region.
By completing a detailed assessment of emissions on our top 38 trips, we were able to use this data and extrapolate it across our whole portfolio of trips by trip style and region. In doing so, we were able to offset the carbon emissions of our trips on behalf of our passengers!
So by traveling with Intrepid Travel, you do it in a way which dramatically reduces your carbon footprint.
The carbon offsetting cost is embedded in the price of the trip - so our passengers have no additional fee to worry about. The average offset cost embedded in our trip price is between $0.14 and $0.42 USD per passenger per day (dependent on the trip and region you are traveling to). Even with the offset included, these trips are still competitive, ensuring you get both the best price for a fantastic grassroots adventure with a reduced environmental impact.
Greenhouse gas emissions generated as a result of stationary energy use, transportation and waste generation and disposal were assessed in accordance with the GHG Protocol (A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard Revised Edition, World Resource Institute & World Business Council for Sustainable Development - 2007).
Information relating to energy use, waste generation and disposal rates were based on data provided by Sustainability Victoria and the United Nations Statistics Division. Emission factors were derived from a number of sources, including the Department of Climate Change (DCC), Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and the World Resource Institute.
A tonne of carbon can vary greatly in price due primarily to two reasons:
- the cost of producing the offset and
- the assessment boundary and method used in determining how much greenhouse gas was produced in a specific activity which then determines the number of offsets required.
Greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide and halocarbons but the mostly commonly referred to greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2) so it has become the standard measure of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are released every time we turn on the light at home, switch on our computer, take a flight or drive the car.
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