Responsible Travel — Carbon Offsetting all Tours and Trips
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Global warming, resulting from excessive greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the most urgent and biggest threats to a healthy planet. As a travel company that sends thousands of travelers on tours across the globe, we know how precious and beautiful our planet is and also how important it is that we help combat climate change. All tours booked on Bookmundi are therefore 100% carbon offset. We also offset all carbon emissions resulting from bookmundi.com servers and users browsing the website. This is a sizeable investment but one that we happily make to protect and sustain the environment that we love, travel, and live in.
The carbon problem in a tourism context
In principle, it is important that all sectors seek to reduce and offset their carbon footprint to avoid contributing to climate change, however, the most carbon emission-intensive industries especially have a responsibility to act swiftly and responsibly. Tourism accounts for an estimated 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, making the sector a significant contributor to climate change.
Bookmundi works with more than 1,500 tour operators, meaning that we offset CO2 emissions on behalf of a large number of tours and trips worldwide. Our hope is that offsetting the carbon footprint caused by all tours booked via Bookmundi results in massive investments in carbon offsetting projects, ultimately helping to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting means investing in projects that reduce or offset greenhouse gases contributing to global warming in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Carbon offsetting may include projects that:
- Help reduce deforestation by preserving and protecting the rainforest, forests, and other ecosystems.
- Improve bio- and eco-systems by planting more trees or restoring nature so that it absorbs more greenhouse gases.
- Invest in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power to reduce the need for burning fossil fuels (coal and oil).
- Help ensure that the world’s industries, factories, and society as a whole emit fewer greenhouse gases.
At Bookmundi, we carbon offset the greenhouse gas emissions that result from every tour booked.
How does carbon offsetting help combat climate change?
Global warming is caused by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and to combat climate change we need to reduce these levels. In the Bookmundi context, we do this by first calculating the greenhouse gases caused per traveler per tour and then investing in carbon-offsetting projects that reduce greenhouse gases to an equivalent level. In this way, we ensure that all the greenhouse gases resulting from the tours and trips travelers book via Bookmundi are being offset and CO2 neutralized.
Similarly, all of Bookmundi’s indirect emissions resulting from our offices, servers, laptops, etc. are also being offset.
Which carbon offsetting projects is Bookmundi investing in?
From wind power projects in India to solar power in Senegal and rainforests in South America, we invest in projects around the world to offset all tour emissions. We are currently investing in the following four carbon-offsetting projects:
1. Planting 8 million trees in Colombia
One of the projects we support is in the Orinoco Basin of Colombia’s Vichada region. We are helping plant 8,000,000 trees on land degraded by decades of cattle farming with the goal of recreating near-natural forests of high-quality hardwoods that sequester carbon. Reforestation also facilitates sustainable timber production, protecting indigenous rainforests from further deforestation and in turn promotes biodiversity and restores ecosystems in the region. The project plants trees suitable for timber, ensuring that consumption patterns are sustainable and no longer damaging to natural ecosystems. Fragile and degraded areas are stabilized and restored in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner while creating jobs for locals in the region. The restored forest will provide shelter for indigenous and migratory birds and animals, particularly endangered species. The forest also becomes a natural habitat for native plants and insects to thrive and enrich the soil of the region.
2. Building solar power in Turkey
More than 11,000 km to the east of Colombia, we contribute to a solar power project in Turkey — a country that runs on CO2-intensive fossil fuel — where 50% of electrical energy is produced by gas- and coal-fired plants. Once Karasu Solar, the photovoltaic plant we are supporting, comes into operation, it will produce 19,540 MWh of electricity every year and help reduce the carbon footprint of the country by 11,377 tCO2e per annum. In addition to making Turkey less dependent on polluting fossil fuels, the plant will also create jobs for the locals, contributing to the economic growth in the region.
3. Installing windmills in India
Traveling 9,800 km further east from Senegal, we reach India. Around 70% of India’s electricity is generated by fossil fuels, but wind energy is playing an increasingly important role in shifting the country towards a low-carbon economy. We invest in a project that installs wind farms across various states, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by displacing the electricity that would have otherwise been generated using fossil fuels. The project enhances the lives of communities by providing employment and capacity-building opportunities while increasing domestic electricity more sustainably.
4. Reducing deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon
Traveling back to South America, we find ourselves in Madre de Dios, a global biodiversity hotspot located in southeastern Peru, within the Vilcabamba-Amboró Conservation corridor. The conservation area is threatened by encroaching human settlements that have resulted from the Interoceanic Highway. Issues like deforestation, environmental degradation, and habitat fragmentation are already visible in areas where the highway operates. Bookmundi invests in a project that dramatically reduces deforestation and the threat posed by communities moving into the area. The project will save precious habitats relied upon by endangered species and tribal communities, and protect 100,000 hectares of the Peruvian Amazon while monitoring 35 endangered species found there. It also curbs the impact of human immigration by incorporating rainforest monitoring and sustainable forest management practices. So far, more than 470 jobs have been created to protect the area.
How exactly do Bookmundi’s trips become carbon offset?
Bookmundi calculates the carbon emissions caused per traveler per trip and invests in carbon reduction projects to offset them. Our carbon offsetting approach and methodology has been verified by an international and professional climate consultancy, ensuring that we always, as a minimum, offset all CO2 equivalent emissions on every tour.
When we calculate the CO2 emissions per trip, we calculate from the starting location of the trip to its ending location. Any international flights to and from a tour's start and end point are not being carbon offset.
Greenhouse gas emissions resulting from package tours and trips are primarily coming from these four sources:
- Transportation: Transport is generally the most carbon-intensive factor in a tour. Emissions are derived from domestic flights, bus transportation, private vehicles, etc.
- Accommodation: Most accommodations emit carbon emissions on an ongoing basis via the use of electricity, heating, and water supply.
- Food and drinks: All food has a carbon footprint attached to it, resulting from production to processing, storage and transportation, distribution, purchase, and finally, preparation.
- Activities on tour: Daily activities on a trip such as whale watching, hot air balloon rides, ATV trips, desert safaris, sailing, or scuba diving involve carbon emissions as well.
Bookmundi calculates the carbon footprint for each of its tours by examining the above four factors for each tour. We adjust for any regional and national factors that might come into play when estimating the carbon footprint. As an example, when we look at accommodation, we consider each type of accommodation and the resulting emission factor and we also drill down to a national level to determine the right carbon emission factor resulting from every accommodation type.
When a traveler books a tour on Bookmundi resulting in the equivalent of, for example, 500 kg of CO2 emissions, we subsequently invest in carbon offsetting projects that either directly or indirectly offset emissions of at least 500 kg of CO2. In this way, we neutralize any carbon footprint resulting from tours booked on Bookmundi.
What carbon offset trips mean for Bookmundi travelers?
Bookmundi still provides amazing tours and trips all around the world from qualified and reputable tour providers, just now in a more sustainable and carbon-offset way. As a traveler, you do not have to worry about additional fees, as the carbon offsettings are already embedded into the cost of each trip. We still offer a best-price guarantee for all the tours we sell.
Frequently asked questions on carbon offsetting in a tourism context
Question 1: What if the tour has already been CO2 offset via other means?
The vast majority of the tours that we offer were not previously carbon offset. However, if a tour is already carbon offset, Bookmundi does not offset the tour again.
Question 2: Is Bookmundi able to accurately calculate the carbon emissions per traveler per tour?
Yes, we are able to come up with a good estimation of a tour’s carbon emissions as we take into account the tour’s local CO2 footprint conditions; the type of accommodation, the type of transport, the geographical differences, etc. It is not always 100% accurate, but we make sure to add in a buffer so that on average we offset more carbon compared to what was emitted on the tour.
Question 3: Are you sure that the carbon offsetting projects you invest in will help combat climate change?
We partnered with an environmental consulting house to advise in general on sustainable principles and help us select the best carbon offset projects available. Aside from getting their input on each carbon offsetting project that we invest in, we also only invest in carbon offsetting projects that have obtained the Gold Standard and/or are VSC certified.
Question 4: Will offsetting all CO2 emissions reduce climate change?
Yes. Offsetting CO2 emissions will definitely help reduce climate change as we offset any CO2 equivalent emissions caused by the trips. We acknowledge that on its own carbon offsetting is not a silver bullet, but it is part of the solution to combat climate change. To fully combat climate change we should not only fully carbon offset ongoing and future greenhouse gases, but also make up for all the past emissions emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution when climate change issues started.
Question 5: In addition to CO2, are you also offsetting other greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, etc?
Yes. When calculating emissions we look at all emissions that contribute to climate change. Such emissions are then converted into CO2 equivalent units and thereafter offset. As an example, 1 kg methane corresponds to approx. 25 kg of CO2 and 1 kg NO2 corresponds to approx. 298 kg CO2.
Question 6: Is it not best for the climate if everybody stops traveling? Why not just stop touring the world from tomorrow?
We believe in a prosperous world and future where the world’s population can still travel and tour the world in an environmentally-friendly manner, causing zero net greenhouse gas emissions. It will not take place today, but we are all responsible for taking action today, allowing us to reap an ever greener tomorrow, eventually taking us to net-zero emissions globally. By Bookmundi now offsetting CO2 emissions for all our tours as well as all indirect emissions resulting from our servers, laptops and users of Bookmundi etc., we are now taking the first step to becoming a fully carbon neutral company.