Every day seems to bring a similar story: climate change and its devastating effects have been on full display, breaking records with no indication of slowing down. It is well known that rising global temperatures, principally caused by excess greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, are contributing to rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere.
In a recent report from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) featuring the need to reduce emissions, the panel shared the following:
“Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall, and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems. In every region, people are dying from extreme heat. Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming.”
The climate crisis impacts all species on earth, and the figure below from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) incorporating plants and animals to highlight how climate change affects generations across all species on the planet.
Slowing Climate Change
While there is no one root cause or solution for climate change, across the globe, governments, businesses, and world citizens understand that we need to cut global emissions by half by 2030 and reduce the temperature rise to 1.5ºC. Responding to climate change will involve a two-tier approach involving mitigation and adaptation. As NASA: Global Climate Change explains:
“Mitigation” – reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Adaptation” – learning to live with, and adapt to, the climate change that has already been set in motion.
Tourism and Travel: Responsible Actions to Help Reverse Climate Change
While many industries are responsible to rising emissions that contribute to our warming temperatures, the travel and tourism industry is a big contributor to our changing climate and is also highly susceptible to the destructive effects on our planet.
According to a report from Skift, in 2019, the tourism industry accounts for about 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions come from airplanes, transportation, lodging, food waste, construction, resource consumption, etc.
SanDiego350.org, a non-profit committed to preventing climate change through education and outreach, recently affirmed that tourism is mainly climate dependent, and that travelers tend to visit destinations that reflect the weather they want to experience. Mountains in the winter and beaches in the summer, for example. However, climate conditions and the destruction of nature will decrease the appeal of a destination and discourage tourists from booking visits, which will impact the communities that depend on tourism.
Highly vulnerable, and a contributor to our changing climate, the tourism industry is responsible for stepping up and responding to the increasing challenges of climate change. The good news is that more and more companies within the tourism industry are improving their practices and providing travelers with more opportunities to choose sustainable options. Many of them, including Global Family Travels, are signatories of both the Future of Tourism, which includes a commitment to create climate action plans, and the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, pledging to halve emissions by 2030 and become completely net zero no later than 2050.
Many hotels are also working to lessen energy consumption by making hotel lights stay off unless the guest is in the room and inserts their key card into a specific slot. Some destinations, such as the Faroe Islands, have banned tourists but allowed a small number of volunteers for short periods of time to perform maintenance projects and protect important ecosystems.
Tomorrow’s Air: A Travel Initiative to help Clean Up and Permanently Store Carbon Dioxide
As the IPCC's report shared, we not only need to cut out emissions to reverse climate change, we also have to clean up some of the carbon that’s already in the atmosphere. An important initiative the tourism industry has launched to do this is called Tomorrow’s Air. A program launched by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Tomorrow’s Air is a collective that invests in permanent carbon removal and storage innovators. Although many people are familiar with the term “carbon offsetting,” which reduces CO2 emissions and works to minimize them in the future (like clean energy projects), “carbon removal” is a lesser-known practice.
Carbon removal means capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and locking it away for decades or centuries and scientists agree that we need carbon dioxide removal in the amount of 10 gigatons per year by 2050. Tomorrow’s Air provides carbon removal via direct air capture, enhanced weathering and biochar because these are technologies that we need to scale up quickly, and can provide permanent storage for carbon dioxide.
The three methods of carbon removal in the Tomorrow’s Air portfolio include:
1) Direct air capture (DAC) in Iceland, which is the process of extracting CO2 directly from the atmosphere and storing it underground; 2) Biochar – which is created from burning biomass in a process that stores carbon dioxide in a stable form that resists decomposition; and 3) Enhanced Mineralization, which speeds up the natural process of chemical weathering that causes the breakdown of rocks and minerals, storing carbon dioxide along the way. In 2022 alone, Tomorrow’s Air travelers helped order the removal and permanent storage of 147 tons of carbon dioxide.
Global Family Travels Commitment to Climate Change and Tomorrow's Air Initiative
With the tourism industry having such an obvious impact on the climate, and and being so heavily impacted by climate change, Global Family Travels has taken significant steps to not only be conscious of our impacts, but to actively work towards minimizing our carbon footprint. As signatories of the Glasgow Declaration, we have pledged to halve emissions by 2030 and become completely net zero no later than 2050.
Another way of working towards that goal of minimizing our carbon footprint is by becoming a Tomorrow’s Air member. Moving forward, Global Family Travels offers travelers the opportunity to contribute $25 (or more) to Tomorrow’s Air on every trip. This small payment contributes to removing emissions from our atmosphere, thus maintaining our planet’s health for future generations to explore it themselves. Even if you are taking a self-planned trip, you can still contribute to Tomorrow’s Air! Learn more about our commitment here.
Climate Action and Regenerative Adventures to Learn, Serve & Immerse
Global Family Travels' vision is to unite humanity and inspire travelers to take responsibility for the challenges and opportunities facing our increasingly inter-connected planet. Working with local communities and non-profit organizations, our mission is to provide authentic community-based Learn, Serve and Immerse travel experiences to foster cross-cultural understanding, destination stewardship, and global citizens. We frequently align our travel experiences around important United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and promotes travel that is not just sustainable, but regenerative, and contributes to the restoration of local ecosystems, economies, and cultures.
From the Andes of Peru, to the Tibetan plateau of Ladakh, India, and the beaches of Bali, below are a few of our regenerative adventures that travelers of all ages can join, inspiring them to journey towards global citizenship and a better planet for all:
In November of 2023, we head to Bali for a Regenerative Retreat in Honor of the Seven Chakras with Djazia Belle. Filled with Tri Hita Karana elements (the 3 sources of Good), this adventure incorporates connection to community and oneself, with service and immersion in a unique and focused way to give travelers the opportunity to align their retreat experiences while celebrating the unique and traditional Balinese approach to wellness, health, and human prosperity.
Next Spring, we head to Peru for a Regenerative Journey for Pachamama/Mother Earth, Sacred Traditions and Divine Feminine Energy. Indigenous wisdom has long been an interwoven component of sustainability and environmental action. Learning from knowledge passed down to us will give us the keys to help protect our planet for the next generation. With this insight, Global Family Travels has curated a regenerative voyage that awakens the cardinal senses to help us learn how to heal our earth and empower women in Peru.
Climate Change Adventures for Families include:
Our Immerse in Iceland’s Dynamic Geology and Changing Climate: A Transformative Trip is both a customized adventure, and group offerings, that provides a unique opportunity to witness and learn about climate change firsthand. With an expert guide, visitors will witness the island’s geothermal and volcanic activity, breathtaking scenic views, wildlife, and culture, learning how climate change has affected the country.
In June of 2024, on our family-friendly Bali Global Classroom Adventure, travelers enjoy this mystical island while learning first-hand from Balinese non-profit organizations about worldwide issues, such as the negative effects of plastics on Life Below Water and take away lifetime lessons from Balinese culture and their approach to preserving and protecting nature.
With mindful trips to inspire global citizens and travel practices, such as Tomorrow's Air for carbon emission removal, we can do our part to slow climate change and preserve our planet for future generations.