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An intrepid new plan to decarbonise travel

4 May 2021 at 5:04 pm
Nikki Stefanoff
Intrepid Travel has announced new low-carbon alternative tours but what does this mean for Aussie travellers still wanting to head overseas?

Nikki Stefanoff | 4 May 2021 at 5:04 pm


An intrepid new plan to decarbonise travel
4 May 2021 at 5:04 pm

Intrepid Travel has announced new low-carbon alternative tours but what does this mean for Aussie travellers still wanting to head overseas?

In a move that demonstrates its B Corp values, and in an industry not necessarily known for its sustainability, Intrepid Travel has begun the process of decarbonising the entirety of its business — starting with its trips.

The global organisation, which has been carbon neutral since 2010, announced last month that it has introduced 42 new low-carbon alternative tours to its itinerary.

Intrepid CEO James Thornton said that while reducing the company’s carbon footprint had been a priority for years, decarbonisation was becoming increasingly central in their product design.

“As an industry, we must look beyond offsetting, advocacy, and administrative ‘green’ practices to focus on where we can have the most positive impact — our trips,” Thornton said. 

 “Since the pandemic began, we’ve been passionately talking about the need for the travel industry to rebuild itself more responsibly. Now, we’re taking action.” 

Part of the company’s decarbonisation plan is to remove flights of 90 minutes or less from its top 50 itineraries by 2022. 

That means if you’re on an Intrepid trip to China and planning to move around the country, all internal flights have been replaced by high-speed rail travel. 

Essentially, if there’s a land-based way to internally travel then Intrepid will take that option.

Reducing your carbon footprint by keeping travel local 

Another way Intrepid has lowered its carbon output is by taking a “closer to home” approach. Over the last 12 months, it has focused on increasing its number of walking and cycling trips, particularly in Australia.  

So far so sustainably sound, but with Australians having no choice to fly if they want to leave the country, or indeed the state, how will long-haul Aussie travellers affect Intrepid’s plan to fully decarbonise the business? 

Intrepid’s environmental impact specialist, Susanne Etti, says they have a boundary of control when it comes to their trips.

“What that means is that if a trip takes a customer from Launceston to Hobart and the trip starts in Launceston, we are responsible for offsetting everything from Launceston to Hobart, however, it’s up to the customer to offset the travel that gets them to the trip’s starting point,” Etti said.

Etti adds that Intrepid offers all customers information on how to offset any flights they choose to take and points to the work of Ecologi, a company playing an important role in the carbon offsetting process. 

As well as the work Etti is doing to decarbonise Intrepid’s internal workings (all amenities, supply chains, any internal travel) the business itself is playing a large role in advocating for industry change. 

“When we think of the impact climate change will have on global tourism I think [the industry] recognises that COVID was just a prelude of what’s to come. Things are changing,” Etti said.

“More and more travel companies are announcing plans for carbon neutrality as well as looking into human-powered trips like walking and cycling, but our industry contributes 8 per cent of global emissions and so there’s a long way to go.” 

Intrepid recently became the world’s first tour operator to be approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Etti says the company is keen to share its learnings, and challenges, with the rest of the industry. 

“We want others to come along on the journey because we need to come together as an industry to make collective change,” she said.


Nikki Stefanoff  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Nikki Stefanoff is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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