The recent harrowing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report was shocking in its confirmation that the climate is becoming hotter and more violent, leading the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to call it a “code red for humanity”.
My immediate reaction to the substantial media coverage was “thank goodness, at last the mass media appear to be finally engaging in this crisis”.
I was beginning to think that November’s COP26 would be the only way to get the climate crisis on the wider agenda, especially after such an extended period of coverage of the pandemic.
So, to a backdrop of dramatic front-page fire, flood and famine images, we are reminded that we all need to re-evaluate our daily actions, including whether we can justify flying or going on holiday.
As travel organisers, we at Nomadic Thoughts, as well as at ACT (Aito’s Climate Crisis Think Tank), have done our best to acknowledge the difficulties and engage with the search for the best way forward.
We understand that the first steps must be to focus on our own carbon footprints – starting with calculating our own carbon emissions and how best to mitigate them. Both of which are a lot easier said than done.
Our goal is a net zero situation, so ‘walking the walk’ continues to be a lot harder than simply ‘talking the talk’.
In the process of making declaration statements and trying to set up carbon action plans (engaging the topics of measurement, reduction and mitigation) it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the power of tourism as a force for good.
We need to continue to offer trips that maximise the benefits of sustainable tourism, while being fully aware that clients need to make a careful decision on whether they are happy to fly away on holiday in the first place.
The balance between responsible tourism and climate restoration remains a delicate one.
With so many developing-world stakeholders benefiting from, indeed, sometimes wholly reliant on, the tourist dollar, the travel and tourism industry has to assist holidaymakers in outlining the carbon impact of their products and provide suitable validated measurement and mitigation calculations.
From now on, holidaymakers must address, justify and finally mitigate their leisure travel’s carbon footprint, without ‘greenwash’, just as they do with any other aspect of their lives.
As we wait for the ‘compliance of science benefits’ and concentrate on creating appropriate calculators for the offsetting and neutralisation of carbon, it still remains important to engage best-practice protection systems for existing rainforests and re-wilding projects.
Help is at hand, not only from our fast-engaging holiday service providers (transportation and destination management companies), but also online sites such as Climate Care, Carbon Responsible and Air Miles Calculator presenting carbon calculators. Equally, EcoAct, Carbon Trust and Compare Your Footprint assist in evaluating the best way forward.
We understand that “code red for humanity” requires fast and furious action.