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Carbon-offsetting: Frequently asked questions

It can be difficult to understand the impact of our travels and the best ways to mitigate that impact. We’ve answered your most-asked questions about carbon offsetting.
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Why does it matter?

Research published in 2018 demonstrates that the carbon footprint of the tourism industry is four times greater than previous estimates, is growing faster than international trade and is already responsible for almost a tenth of global greenhouse gases (Lenzen et al., 2018). We want to take a leading role in the industry by making all our trips carbon neutral – reducing the carbon footprint of our tours and offsetting the remaining carbon.  

We have committed to offsetting all trips booked with us from 1 January 2020, including flights, transport and accommodation. 

 

There has been negative press about similar schemes not working. Why should we believe in this one?

We know that not all carbon offsetting schemes have been effective. We have thoroughly researched and are proud to be working with ClimateCare (the highest-ranked B Corp in the UK), who deliver some of the largest and most successful carbon offsetting programmes in the world. Their team has helped us to select a portfolio of projects that not only deliver robust carbon reductions, but which have a positive impact on local communities too. By supporting Gold Standard projects, we are working with best-practice projects around the world that deliver real carbon reductions and also improve people’s lives.

Shouldn't we be trying to cut down carbon emissions, rather than just offsetting them?

Yes, we absolutely should, and we are. We are working hard to reduce the emissions of all our trips - offsetting helps us mitigate those remaining emissions that could not be eliminated. Offsetting is just one tool to help us act on climate change; but it's also important that we take responsibility for our current carbon footprint. Offsetting these emissions through high-quality carbon reduction projects is the most effective way to act quickly.

So what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

We are auditing the carbon footprint of all our holidays and that of our head office, identifying ways in which we can reduce impacts while improving our customer experience. We’ve come a long way in recent months. Our UK office is a zero-waste-to-landfill space and we have eliminated all single-use plastics from HQ. This includes soaps, washing up liquids and takeaway coffee cups. We have reduced staff travel, and we offset our own carbon footprint. We have a long-standing partnership with Water-to-Go and are working towards being single-use-plastic-free across the world.

How do you measure the carbon emitted by your trips?

You will have noticed that some companies symbolically plant a tree or offset a tonne of carbon. We know we need to do better than this. While we know carbon offsetting is not a silver bullet, we are using a science-based approach to reduce and then offset all of our emissions. We use data from our trips and the UK Government emissions factors to calculate the carbon footprint of our tours and are working to refine these calculations even further.  

Shouldn’t the projects supported by your carbon-offsetting efforts be closer to home?

The funds that we dedicate to carbon-offsetting need to be spent where they can have the greatest chance to make a meaningful difference. We take advice from ClimateCare as to which projects deliver the greatest return on investment to truly reduce emissions. The projects that we have chosen to offset your carbon footprint with are Gold Standard, and also protect the livelihoods and human rights of the communities that rely on the environment being protected.

What can I do as a traveller?

We all need to fly less. More than 75% of the carbon footprint of everyone’s holidays are a result of flying to their destination and offsetting doesn't give us a license to continue flying as usual. Consider taking fewer flights and staying longer at your destination. Make a positive contribution to the local economy. Consider your route – flying direct has a lower carbon output than taking connecting flights as additional take offs add a disproportionate amount of carbon. Travel should be about experiencing, learning and understanding, and of course having fun! At the same time we should be mindful of our impact.

More questions?

Have another question about carbon emissions and / or offsetting? Drop us a line at sustainability@explore.co.uk.
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