By Kaitie Worobec, ATTA Climate Action Intern
“Climate Change to drive ‘massive’ investment shift’” — BBC
“James Murdoch Slams Fox News Over Climate Change Denial” — The Daily Beast
“Climate Change: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record” — BBC
These are just three of thousands of climate change headlines in the news the past few days. As the issue of climate change continues to grow into the crisis and the discussion of current times, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has taken the call to action for climate to heart. To help inform our strategies and create a baseline for the adventure industry’s position with respect to climate action, we’ve partnered with sustainability leader Intrepid Travel on a new research study: State of Climate Action in the Adventure Travel Industry. Both organizations are committed to catalyzing collective action to accelerate the reduction of travel’s contribution to global emissions.
“It is the responsibility, and obligation, of businesses within the tourism industry to do whatever we can to preserve this earth for our future generations,” said James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel. “If we don’t act now, there will be no travel in the decades and centuries to come. It is our hope that this report will act as a catalyst for businesses to make considered changes in the way they operate and help those in our sector realize how imperative it is to focus our efforts on carbon reduction and action amidst the climate emergency we’re now facing.”
The report, which will be available in February 2020, incorporates survey data from 177 adventure travel businesses from around the world and examines knowledge and attitudes related to climate change, climate action strategies currently adopted and planned for the near future, and barriers to implementation.
- Adventure businesses say they see the impacts of climate change first-hand and rate their knowledge of the issue to be fairly high. However, many are still in the early stages of climate action.
- Almost half of responding organizations (48%) do not have a climate action strategy and 71% do not measure their carbon footprint. Among those who do measure their carbon footprint, 78% offset those emissions.
- For organizations already taking climate action, sustainably sourcing food (68%) and purchasing from more sustainable suppliers (66%) are the most commonly implemented climate change mitigation strategies. Businesses say they are also supporting local climate action projects, educating and incentivizing travellers and revising itineraries.
- Among organizations that already have a partial or full climate action strategy in place, restructuring itineraries to rely less on fossil fuels (49%) is a top priority, followed by offsetting emissions (42%). One-third (35%) also intends to adapt meals to emphasize foods with a lower carbon footprint.
- When asked about whether clients would pay more for a trip if they knew some portion of their expense was being directed to climate action, two out of five organizations (44%) perceive that their clients would pay more or they would not notice. Regionally, adventure travel businesses headquartered in South America are more confident compared to North America and Europe.
- The majority of adventure businesses (56%) are not engaged yet with carbon removal.
- Cost, understanding and evaluating the options, and time are the top three barriers to implementing climate action strategies.
“The results of this survey help confirm what we have been hearing anecdotally through our events and community networks,” said Christina Beckmann, who leads the ATTA’s Climate Action team. “It’s understandable that a lack of confidence in whether consumers would pay more for climate action innovations is a barrier for some. But we also see incredible leadership from this community. Close to 100 respondents to the survey shared anecdotes of what they are doing in their businesses, and we are excited to spotlight and support these climate frontrunners in the coming year.”
Adventure travel companies are on the forefront of making a positive impact in the face of the climate crisis, yet there is more that must be done. To organize concrete action, the ATTA anchors its own programs with a pledge (to go live later this month). Industry practitioners can sign the pledge and receive a badge for their websites. They are also invited to join a Community for Climate Action in Travel group on LinkedIn, which is open not only to ATTA members but to the wider community as well.
Two powerful new programs will launch in 2020: Neutral Together, a bulk purchase carbon offset program for ATTA members delivered in partnership with South Pole; and Tomorrow’s Air, an industry-wide collective for removing carbon dioxide debuting later in the spring.
The State of Climate Action report will be available for download in the ATTA research center by the end of February 2020, free to ATTA members, $99 USD for non-members.