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- To ensure we're consistently working towards protecting the environment and using resources in an efficient, fair and responsible way.
- To ensure that our trips are designed in a way that limits the physical impact on the destinations we visit, so that they may be enjoyed by many generations to come.
In late 2010 we reached our goal to become a carbon neutral company. A goal that we set ourselves in December 2006 and achieved through our Carbon Management Plan.
Intrepid recognises that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our world today. The tourism industry is both impacted by climate change and it's also a sector that's a growing contributor to the problem. As a travel company which creates and promotes holidays within the tourism sector, we see it's our responsibility to ensure that the negative impact we have on global warming is minimised and we work toward sustaining our environment. Therefore, as a business we made a commitment to tackle climate change through the development of our Carbon Management Plan.
The current offset project we are investing in is the Alize Çamseki wind farm in Turkey. The wind turbines produce approximately 82,000 MWh of electricity each year. In doing so, the wind farm prevents 52,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year. For further information check out the project files here.
Our Carbon Management Plan helps us to operate our business in a sustainable manner and address our environmental commitments under the United Nations Global Compact which in turn work toward the 7th Millennium Development Goal: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability.
As part of our Carbon Management Plan, we offset our global business carbon emissions (from our offices and retail stores), our trips, and offer carbon offset flights to passengers booking their flights through Intrepid. Through these offsets, significant monetary contributions are being made on behalf of our business, suppliers, staff and travellers to internationally certified carbon abatement projects, equating to over $1 million since 2007.
The majority of Intrepid trips are Carbon Offset - that's over 800 trips! We measure and offset the main sources of emissions created on our trips by our passengers:
Our trips are also low impact by design. How? We try to use public transport where possible, stay in locally owned and simpler styles of accommodation and eat at locally owned eateries where the food has been locally sourced, therefore reducing food mile emissions.
To minimise carbon emissions on Intrepid trips, we make the following considerations:
- Local Services - We engage locally-owned and operated services thereby supporting local people and not using long and carbon-intensive supply chains.
- Local Transport - We use local public transport wherever we can to reduce fuel usage per passenger.
- Water Conservation - We support initiatives that encourage conservative use of water and hot water such as low-flow shower roses.
- Local Food and Local Goods - We endeavour to include and strongly encourage our travellers to eat locally produced food and goods. This reduces the 'embodied energy' (energy consumed through production and transport) of the food and goods purchased by our passengers.
- Water Bottles - We encourage our passengers to refill a water bottle from water 'bubblers' where available to avoid unnecessary purchasing of bottled water and the subsequent waste disposal issues. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. Therefore for every 1 litre of water sold, 3 litres of water is used.
- Economic Empowerment - Economic empowerment of local communities through tourism can help improve education and health services, water supplies and sanitation and reduce dependence on non-sustainable livelihoods such as deforestation.
- Local Employment - We use local leaders and guides so that we learn about the culture and way of life directly from those who live it and put money into local hands and economies. We can particularly learn from indigenous rural communities about their relationship to the land and how they've practiced sustainable agriculture for centuries.
- Recycling - Intrepid leaders also provide travellers with awareness on how they can practice principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and appropriate waste disposal at their destination.
Since 2007, we've been offering 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 help us tackle climate change by choosing this option.
So if you book a Carbon Offset Flight through Intrepid, you'll fly with the knowledge that your environmental impact has been reduced.
An impressive number of Intrepid travellers have chosen to book our Carbon Offset Flights. In the first year alone our travellers offset 18,700 tonnes of carbon! Since then, we've offset a further 27,400 tonnes, meaning over 45,000 tonnes of carbon emissions have been offset since 2007. That's equal to approximately the amount of carbon that 2,796,047 trees would absorb over 10 years, or taking over 4,753 passenger cars off the road for an entire year!* We thank our thoughtful passengers for their consideration of the environment.
Intrepid Travel currently offsets our carbon by investing in internationally accredited compliant projects that are based in our biggest destinations, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Brazil. These projects not only offset Intrepid's emissions but they also improve the environment of the local communities by providing an alternative to fossil fuels and therefore produce less pollution.
Our current offset project in is the Alize Çamseki wind farm in Turkey. The wind turbines produce approximately 82,000 MWh of electricity each year. In doing so, the wind farm prevents 52,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year. For further information check out the project files here.
* Calculations are based on information provided on the Environmental Protection Agency - Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator webpage.
Intrepid adopts the following principles to manage our environmental footprint in all offices and stores around the world:
- Measure - We currently measure emissions from electricity, gas, waste, business travel and water. We have a comprehensive Carbon Assessment Worksheet that's completed annually by our global offices.
- Avoid - We adopt a number of energy efficiency measures including, but not limited to, automatic computer shut down at 8pm in our head office and Skype conferencing rather than travelling for face-to-face meetings.
- Reduce - We have significantly reduced paper waste and waste to landfill; many offices adopt a comprehensive recycling plan and we have reduced the number of business trips taken by management and staff on an annual basis.
- Offset - Whatever emissions can't be avoided are offset by our investment in high-quality renewable energy projects.
This is how we're greening our office spaces:
- We're using 100% Green Power energy (where available) in our offices and retail stores.
- 'Reduce, reuse and recycle' policies for our paper usage. All office paper and paper products are recycled where possible and we purchase Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited or similarly sustainably sourced paper. Double-sided printing is the default setting on all printers.
- We have implemented a Waste Management System at head office which has dramatically reduced what we send to landfill and maximised what goes off for recycling.
- We're conscious that our brochures consume a lot of paper, so since 2000 we've had an annual tree planting day. In the last year, staff and travellers planted over 1,100 trees and shrubs.
- We have our very own worm farm and bokashi bins that composts all our fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds.
- We have reviewed our lighting and have successfully 'de-lamped' unnecessary bulbs.
- We have regular presentations for staff on sustainability matters including topics such as waste reduction, sustainable seafood options and ethically sourced paper.
- Intrepidites are a pretty active bunch and many walk or cycle to work. We encourage the use of public transport.
What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
There's no internationally agreed upon definition for 'carbon neutral'. Australia has recently defined carbon neutrality under the National Carbon Offset Standard (1 July 2010) as "a situation where the net emissions associated with a product or an organisation'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.
Watch our carbon offset trip video here
How does Intrepid maintain its carbon neutrality?
Being carbon neutral involves calculating Intrepid'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 offset activity. Intrepid follows a project plan which describes the activities and milestones necessary to keep us carbon neutral 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. 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 gelati in Italy but then walked around Rome for two hours, the net impact (in terms of calories) of eating the gelati would be zero. While it's not ideal - in that you probably shouldn't have eaten that gelati in the first place - it's far better than not doing anything at all. Offsetting carbon works in a similar way.
How do we measure our trip emissions?
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 travelling, 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 travelling with Intrepid, you do it in a way which dramatically reduces your carbon footprint.
How do you calculate the offset cost?
The offset cost is embedded in the cost of the trip - so our passengers have no additional fee to worry about. The average offset cost embedded in our trip price is between $0.19 and $0.54 AUD per passenger per day (dependent on the trip and region you are travelling 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.
What offset assessment standards do you use?
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 and 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.
Why do companies charge different amounts for offsets?
A tonne of carbon can vary greatly in price due primarily to two reasons:
1) the cost of producing the offset and
2) 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.
What is climate change?
Climate change is the term commonly used when talking about global warming. The Earth is like a giant greenhouse, but instead of having glass panes which trap heat, it has gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. As the sun's rays shine on the Earth this blanket of gases (Earth's atmosphere) traps some of the heat - which has the effect of warming the planet and keeping it at a relatively constant level. Without it the Earth would either get too hot or too cold.
When greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by human activity like burning fossil fuels and clearing land, it's like constantly adding more glass layers to the greenhouse, ultimately raising the temperature inside. If we don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there's a risk that the Earth will heat to a level which could seriously affect life on our planet. For more information on climate change, please go to the Australian Conservation Foundation's website. For the latest scientific observations of climate change, please see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's website.
Why the focus on carbon dioxide and not other greenhouse gases?
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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