We’re declaring a climate emergency. This is why.

written by James Thornton January 16, 2020
Polar bear in the Arctic

This blog was updated on 17 February 2021 for accuracy.

For the past 30 years, Intrepid Travel has been taking small groups of travellers around the world, providing them with real life experiences that give back to the places we visit, and the people we meet. We’ve always been about travelling the local way – getting around on local transport, eating at local restaurants, and staying in locally run accommodation.

Thirty years later, we’ve grown into the world’s largest adventure travel company. And we’ve learned that the more we grow, the bigger the difference we can make.

We first started getting worried about climate change in 2005, when a group of senior managers here at Intrepid read The Weather Makers, a critically acclaimed book by Tim Flannery about the history and future impact of climate change.

Our concerns grew in 2006, when we took the entire Intrepid office – along with 900 of our travellers – to see Al Gore’s award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

No one liked what they saw.

We conducted a survey of several thousand travellers across the globe, and discovered that almost all of them (91% of them, in fact) wanted us to take definitive action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The crowd had spoken. The results of that survey led to our commitment to measure, manage and mitigate our emissions, with the aim of becoming climate neutral (which was achieved and externally verified in 2010).

As a result, we became the world’s largest carbon-neutral travel company.  As of December 2018, we’ve offset more than 310,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. In late 2018, we revised our reporting methodology in line with Climate Active, formally known as the National Carbon Offsetting Standards (NCOS), under the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Initiative.

But this is no longer enough.

As GMs, CEOs, business owners, travellers, and human beings, we are clear that there is a Climate Emergency which requires immediate and radical action by our governments, our industry and our business.

We need to see decisive government action to combat our urgent climate crisis.

But it’s also the responsibility (and obligation) of businesses, like Intrepid, to do whatever they can to preserve this earth for our future generations. Business has a vital role to play in helping limit global warming, and building the net-zero carbon economy of the future.

Together with a group of other businesses, organisations and individuals in the tourism industries, we are declaring a Climate Emergency, as part of Tourism Declares. We’re committed to setting a science-based emission reduction target, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at the pace and scale that science says is necessary to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C.


Based on the facts we know today, we’d be lying to ourselves if we were to continue as though there is nothing wrong. But everything is wrong. We are in a Climate Emergency.

Part of our commitment plan is creating a climate positive company in the future. This means creating environmental benefits by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and decarbonizing our business by reducing emissions from our trips and global operations

We are committed to creating environmental benefits by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and decarbonise our business by reducing emissions from our trips and global operations.

So, what’s the plan?

By going public with a seven-point climate commitment:

1. We’ll measure our emissions.

From transport, to waste, to energy use – we need to know where our emissions are coming from so we can understand how to limit them.

2. We’ll offset 125% of our emissions in 2020.

This year, we’ll be expanding our carbon management program to offset sources of emissions beyond our brands – like offsetting our customers’ flights, and double offsetting our Polar Expeditions.

3. We’ll set a science-based target to reduce emissions.

This ensures our business will be on track for low-carbon growth.

4. Our goal is to transition to 100% renewable energy…

… in our offices by 2025, and on our trips by 2030.

5. Intrepid is the first travel company in Australia to invest in green deposits…

… supporting assets and projects consistent with delivering a low carbon economy.

6. We will keep empowering women around the world…

…to continue to empower women and strive for social justice and sustainable growth around the world. This includes through projects such as Eden Reforestation Projects in Kenya.

7. We will continue to invest in research and innovative solutions.

We’ve already raised more than $650K for the Seaweed project with the film 2040, the Climate Foundation and the University of Tasmania, and will be funding $100k for Antarctic climate change research in a bid to help preserve the Antarctic.

It’s our responsibility to help preserve the planet for the next generation of travellers and the communities that call these places home.

Feature photo by Justin Meneguzzi. 

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