The Travel Corporation‘s new five-step Climate Action Plan will guide how we reach carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner.
At The Travel Corporation (TTC) and our family of award-winning travel brands, the health and wellbeing of the world we have the great privilege of exploring is paramount. The fact that that which offers us so much – our planet – must be taken care of through action, is clear to us.
This action began in 2008, when we established our TreadRight Foundation to offer financial support for projects that align with the planet, its people and its wildlife. Our efforts have evolved over the years, and in September 2020 we launched our new sustainability strategy based on 11 measurable goals. How We Tread Right (HWTR) addresses TTC and our brands’ impact on climate, food, waste, experiences, diversity and wildlife.
Goals #1 and #2 of HWTR include our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner, and to sourcing 50% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025. To ensure our success against these goals and to further our commitment to action, we have established a five-point Climate Action Plan.
Our plan is not marked by one quick fix, because we do not believe there is only one. It is marked with a need to act now coupled with our commitment to learn and adapt as technology and innovation help us in our transition to a low-carbon business, both at our facilities as well as on our trips. Our plan builds on progress made to date and evaluates how we become a part of the global effort to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, as outlined by the International Panel on Climate Change.
1. Measure: Understanding our impact
The Travel Corporation has a significant direct carbon footprint from our owned assets (Scope 1 + 2 emissions). This represents what we call our “Business Emissions” and includes emissions from 20+ offices, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, 13 Uniworld ships, 6 accommodations/facilities and 500+ vehicles. We also include our employees’ air business travel as part of our business emissions.
The Travel Corporation brands operate more than 1,500 itineraries worldwide, an operation that has a carbon footprint of its own, and what we refer to as our “Trip Emissions.” In 2020, TTC worked with a third-party consultant to develop a customized “Trip Carbon Calculator” to measure the average carbon footprint of our trips, and this tool has since been peer reviewed to ensure its reliability. That same year we attained an average carbon footprint per passenger per day by measuring 165 trips across all regions and brands. Our tool was developed in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and uses best practices available to date. However, we recognize that measuring trip emissions is an evolving process and a journey that many of our peers are on as well. To that end, we commit to collaborating with the industry and remaining transparent regarding our methodology, which is publicly available here. We will review and update the carbon footprint of our trips every two years using an updated Trip Carbon Calculator with the latest emission factors.
Using data from this tool, we will phase in carbon neutral trips across respective brands between 2022 – 2030, beginning with Contiki in 2022.
2. Reduce: Building on ongoing efforts
With a new carbon reporting system in place as of January 2020, we are committed to setting reduction targets for our emissions by mid-2022 to ensure we are exploring every opportunity to drawdown our emissions and set ourselves on the path to net zero. Due to COVID-19, we have not yet had the opportunity to measure a full year of operations using new reporting mechanisms implemented in early 2020. These measurements are critical to ensure that our targets support the world’s progress towards limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. These targets will build on our ongoing work to secure and generate renewable energy, and assess alternative fuels to minimize our carbon footprint. To learn more about our reduction efforts, visit our climate page.
3. Remove: supporting promising solutions
We know that carbon removal solutions that store excess carbon from our atmosphere will be crucial to mitigating climate change and we are committed to assisting these science-based solutions to accelerate and scale as quickly as possible. Through our TreadRight Foundation we are proud to provide grants to two new potential permanent carbon storage solutions: Project Vesta & GreenWave.
Project Vesta’s mission is to harness the natural power of the oceans to remove a trillion tonnes of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Their carbon removal solution accelerates the natural weathering process of olivine, a volcanic material, and places it on beaches and at coastal areas where ocean wave action stores carbon within rock on the sea floor. Project Vesta estimate that if deployed on just 2% of global shelf seas, olivine could capture 100% of annual human carbon dioxide emissions. A grant from TreadRight will support lab studies that will monitor the impact of olivine on coastal ecosystems. The results from these studies will be made available to the scientific community to demonstrate that coastal enhanced weathering is a safe intervention.
GreenWave is a regenerative ocean farming organization studying how kelp can be added to soil to increase its carbon storage potential while decreasing harmful nitrous oxide emissions on regenerative land farms. While there have been many attempts to increase soil’s natural ability to store carbon (known as soil organic carbon), one unintended effect is the release of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The use of kelp as a soil additive is emerging as a tool to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and create a net climate benefit. TreadRight’s grant will go towards validating GreenWave’s research on the link between kelp, nitrous oxide and carbon emissions through a one-year field study using kelp grown on the GreenWave farm as a soil additive for regenerative land-based farms in the Northeast, USA.
4. Offset: Addressing unavoidable emissions
We view verifiable carbon offsets as an interim solution to offset emissions until we can transition to a low-carbon economy and carbon removal solutions at scale. In partnership with South Pole, a leading offset provider, we will offset unavoidable emissions by purchasing verified carbon credits. TTC will not support any offset project that has not been verified by a reputable international standard, such as Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, or validated as an Australian Carbon Credit Unit. Beginning in 2022 we will:
♦ Offset emissions from TTC offices and employee air business travel
♦ Offset emissions from all Contiki trips
The emissions from TTC Offices and employee air business travel will be offset through a verified forest conservation project in Victoria, Australia. By protecting Victoria’s Annya State Forest against further clearing and re-vegetating it with native flora, this project enhances biodiversity and permanently protects habitat for vulnerable native species while storing carbon within the rehabilitated ecosystem.
Our brands will have their own offset projects to contribute towards as they introduce carbon neutral trips.
5. Evolve: we cannot do this alone
We’re not on this journey alone and we’re invested in collaborations with likeminded organizations and businesses that are taking urgent climate action. Through advocacy and support we are involved with World Travel & Tourism Council and The Future of Tourism Coalition to address roadmaps to achieve net zero by 2050 for the industry and in-destinations.
We will back up our carbon neutral claims by publishing our externally verified carbon footprint, demonstrating our reduction efforts and publishing our annual offset amounts. We’ll continue to monitor global or leading carbon neutral labels that may apply to our business in future.
EXPLORE MORE ISSUES
CLIMATE: learn more
FOOD: learn more
WASTE: learn more
experiences: coming June 24
wildlife: coming july 15
diversity: coming august 5