Knowledge-sharing as an answer to the climate action gap
By Susanne Etti
Finding climate optimism in 2024 is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
December’s #COP28 UN Climate Conference cemented an historic deal to transition away from fossil fuels, but a litany of loopholes look to undermine it and force poorer nations to the disaster frontlines. Its next iteration, Azerbaijan’s #COP29, announced an organising committee without a single woman, causing widespread outrage and a swift, under-the-rug backflip. All of this unraveled against a backdrop of the world’s hottest year on record. Anyone else need to take a breath?
At Intrepid, we know we’re just one small actor in a much larger tourism ecosystem, which together accounts for around 8% of carbon emissions worldwide. Despite this, the sector continues to have to fight for its seat at the table in critical thought leadership settings. Being omitted from these conversations means critical levers, such as supporting smaller businesses to find net zero solutions, just aren’t being pulled fast enough by government and other decision-makers.
So what can we do? An accessible step that everybody can take is knowledge-sharing. By working together, exchanging learnings and helping each other come on the journey, we can achieve more impactful outcomes than anyone could in isolation.
That’s why we have decided to open-source our carbon labelling and trip emissions methodology in a new, free, and publicly accessible guide. Intrepid introduced carbon labels on over 500 of our itineraries last year to help our travellers better understand the environmental footprint of their travel choices.
The objective of this guide is to provide other travel businesses of all sizes with the technical guidance to do the same: calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated from operating their trips, and to then transparently share this information with their customers.
It is based on Intrepid’s trip emissions methodology, which aligns with greenhouse gas reporting frameworks issued by international standards setting body, GHG protocol. There are limitations, so it’s intended to be used as a guide, not an exact science.
But as carbon calculations increasingly become more accurate, we plan to update our numbers and methodology and continue sharing these advancements with the travel community, encouraging best-practice adoption by industry at scale.
Commitments and targets serve as important means to guide us, but if COP-28 reminded me of anything, it’s that talk only goes so far. We need detailed, implementable blueprints to meaningfully accelerate emissions reduction – and we need them now. I hope for travel and tourism, this guide can play a small role in doing just that and build our capacity to advocate as a collective for policies that support decarbonisation across our industry at a higher level.
And it’s important to acknowledge it’s not all doom and gloom. Just last month the EU approved a landmark greenwashing law to help ensure integrity in the use of sustainability claims. New data has shown a significant decline in deforestation in the Amazon. And an historic ocean treaty is set to be ratified, helping to protect a projected third of the world’s critical blue spaces.
If we’re going to ensure the future of travel in a warming world, we not only need to stay committed to working as a collective, but never lose sight of this hope.