www.My-Climate.comWhen the World Wildlife Fund recently announced that if current climate trends continue, the polar bear will be extinct by the end of this century, one company in the tourism industry took it to heart. Natural Habitat Adventures, a world leader in nature tours, teamed up with Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offer MyClimate, an innovative new program that helps to fight global warming.
"Our polar bear adventures in northern Canada are some of our most popular trips, offering an unusually personal view of these amazing animals," says Ben Bressler, Natural Habitat Adventures Founder and Director. Yet the very activity that Natural Habitat Adventures promotes - tourism - is threatening its own survival, as travel-related activities account for nearly one third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. And air travel is one of the most notorious polluters. By ensuring that its operations are climate friendly while at the same time, offering climate friendly travel options to its clients. "What we hope to do," states Peter D. Krahenbuhl, STI Co-founder and Vice President, "is help Natural Habitat Adventures become the first climate impact neutral tour operator in the United States through a concept known as greenhouse gas offsetting." Greenhouse gas and carbon offsets are defined as mechanisms by which the impact ! of emitting a ton of greenhouse gases or carbon can be negated or diminished by avoiding the release of a ton elsewhere, or absorbing a ton from the air that otherwise would have remained in the atmosphere.
The program allows clients to calculate their trip's greenhouse gas "costs" right on the company's website, www.NatHab.com. Travelers can then choose to neutralize their climate related impacts by purchasing a MyClimate "ticket." Natural Habitat Adventures matches up to half the cost of a fully-offset "ticket." The money is then invested in climate-friendly renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere.
For example, travelers can neutralize the climate impact of a flight that emits 1.5 tons of greenhouse gases by purchasing a MyClimate "ticket" for $16 which might then be invested in solar ovens in Africa, reducing the need to import diesel fuel that would emit the equivalent amount of emissions as the flight in question. So with the matching option, the traveler only pays $8 to offset their full climat! e impact, and Natural Habitat Adventures pays the remaining $8.
"It's possible that some U.S. tour operators are offsetting their internal carbon emissions," Krahenbuhl continues, "but through MyClimate, Natural Habitat Adventures is raising the industry standard by offsetting all of their operations-related greenhouse gas impacts - not just their carbon emissions - while at the same time actively helping their clients to follow suit."