2010 Innovation Award Finalist: Intrepid Travel
Organization: Intrepid Travel
Nominated by: Eliza Anderson, Intrepid Travel (Organization Category)
In 2009, Intrepid Travel announced that we would carbon offset the transport, waste and accommodation emissions on all of the trips that we operate across the globe. This accounts for 80% of our entire trip portfolio (we sell some trips operated by partner tour companies)!
As a result, all of our trips operating in 2010 have the cost of carbon offsetting included in the trip cost. This move not only cemented Intrepid’s position as a leader in tackling climate change, but it marked a significant milestone in our journey to become a carbon neutral company. The decision to carbon offset all of our trips followed a trial in 2009 whereby we conducted detailed assessments of the carbon emissions of 38 of our most popular trips around the world and included the cost of carbon offsetting in the price.
In 2009, from the 38 trial carbon offset trips, Intrepid offset 4222 tCO2-e, the equivalent of offsetting the electricity produced by 512 homes for one whole year! For the first six months of 2010, we have offset 10,880 tCO2-e from offsetting all of our trips. This is the equivalent of the electricity produced by 1320 homes for one whole year! We are already in discussion with some of our partner tour operators to encourage them to carbon offset their trips. We have had some positive results that mean we will offer more carbon offset trips in 2011.
ASSESSING CARBON EMISSIONS FROM TRIPS
With so many trip components potentially emitting greenhouse gases, we defined clear boundaries of what we would assess and subsequently offset. 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, trains and elephants (well maybe not elephants!). As direct emissions from transport makes up the vast majority of the emissions when travelling, offsetting this component is vital.
- Accommodation: offset all included accommodation, hotels and camping.
- Waste: While we will attempt to reduce waste in all ways possible, recycling is not accessible in all countries we visit. We have therefore, also considered emissions generated through the average waste generated per person in that particular region.
Once we established the amount of carbon emissions of a trip per passenger, we then looked at the cost of offsetting the trip. Intrepid trips have the offset cost embedded in the cost of the trip – our passengers have no additional fee to worry about!
The average offset cost embedded in our trip price is between $0.22 and $0.66 AUD per passenger per day (dependent on the trip and region you are travelling to). Even with the offset included, our trips are still competitive ensuring the best price for a grassroots adventure with a reduced environmental impact. By choosing to travel on these trips, our passengers are travelling in a way which dramatically reduces their net carbon footprint.
Aside from offsetting, Intrepid works hard on reducing the emissions of our trips. For example we’ve reduced transport emissions by replacing some internal flights or charter vehicles with efficient trains or buses. We’ve reduced accommodation emissions by encouraging hotel managers to introduce systems such as the key tag energy systems and drinking water dispensers that encourage travellers to refill their bottles for drinking water instead of purchasing bottled water and adding to the plastic waste disposal problem.
CARBON OFFSET PROJECTS
Intrepid Travel is working with Cleaner Climate to offer carbon offset trips. Cleaner Climate is an international carbon solutions provider focused on the delivery of pioneering climate change strategies for many of the world’s leading companies and brands, including Intrepid! We work closely with Cleaner Climate to select appropriate offset projects in which to invest through our Carbon Offset Trip initiative.
The projects are:
- Bargaran Mini_Hydro project, India
- Macahoe Hydro project, China
- Rice Husk Biomass project, Thailand
We have chosen to purchase carbon credits from existing projects rather than buying carbon credits from future projects. This is because we want the impact to be immediate.
In addition, we have chosen projects that offer social and financial benefits to local communities. For example:
- The project in India installed locally sourced turbines and employs locals for ongoing operations, monitoring and maintenance.
- The project in China improves electricity accessibility and reduces the prevalence of local villagers using firewood. In turn, this strengthens the soil and improves water conservation.
- The project in Thailand provides an income to local rice farmers who are struggling in the face of economic and political uncertainty. By selling husks, they generate a valuable new source of income.
CARBON MANGEMENT PLAN
Our Carbon offset Trips are part of Intrepid’s Carbon Management Plan. Our Carbon Management Plan maps out our efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our operations and work towards carbon neutrality.
Intrepid’s Carbon Management Plan is made up of the following principles:
C.Reduce or switch to an alternative
Under this Plan, we undertake environmental management of our trips, our corporate operations and the flights of our passengers. To our knowledge, we are the only tour operator in our market that has undertaken action to this extent. We are very proud of our efforts and look forward to minimizing our environmental impact even further.
OUTCOMES OF CARBON MANAGEMENT PLAN
- Since the beginning of Intrepid’s Carbon Management Plan and up until the end of 2009, we have offset 50,000 tonnes worth of carbon emissions. This is equivalent to offsetting the electricity produced by 6068 homes for one whole year!
- Intrepid managed to reduce its corporate footprint from 1210 tCO2-e (2008 Financial Year) to 1167 tCO2-e (2009 Financial Year).
- In 2010, 80% (almost 500 trips) of Intrepid’s trip portfolio are Carbon Offset Trips.
ESTC 2010: Business Case for Sustainability
Jelina Mitrovic, Intrepid Travel’s Global Social Responsibility & Sustainability Manager, will present on the panel “Business case for sustainability in travel and tourism” at this year’s Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), being held in Portland, Oregon, USA from September 8-10. The ESTC brings together innovative minds from across the industry to discuss practical ideas and solutions that inspire positive changes. Learn more & register online at: www.ecotourismconference.org.