I’ve been meaning to Declare a Climate Emergency since saying to Jeremy Smith, a friend and co-founder of Tourism Declares, that I definitely would. That was on March 4th, 2020 in Berlin (on the day the ITB was cancelled). Back then there were around 70 signatories; today, I will be the 415th one who declares. I am embarrassed it has taken me so long.
This doesn’t mean that climate emergency has not been on my mind and that I’ve not made changes in my personal life to respond. I am also very proud that my two pre-teen children have also made many changes and they are constantly pushing the whole family to do more.
Today, I declare a climate emergency and commit to the five commitments: develop a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ (below); share my commitment and progress publicly; cut my carbon emissions; work with others in the travel industry; and advocate for change.
My carbon footprint
- ‘food’ (I don’t eat meat; I don’t buy takeaways and rarely eat out; I buy local as much as possible)
- ‘stuff’ (I buy second hand, I saw, repair and swap clothes, furniture and other ‘stuff’).
- ‘domestic transport’ (I don’t commute to work; I cycle/scoot, and use public transport when too far to cycle). I use the car occasionally for kids’ activities where there is no public transport, and we share car journeys with other parents.
My biggest impact comes from the energy use at home and from flying. I live in an old house that is terribly insulated, but also very hard to insulate due to very strict conservation-area rules. I do keep the heating down as much as possible though, but I must juggle this with keeping the kids warm. I will be moving house in 2022 so there is a chance to improve.
Before the pandemic, I use to take six-seven EU flights per year: to see family in Poland, and for work assignments in tourism to conduct fieldwork and undertake consultations with local stakeholders. I’ve not flown long-haul (over six hours) since 2016. I fly because flyingt cuts down on the time away from my children.
My Climate Emergency Action Plan
Therefore, to reduce my carbon footprint I declare to take actions in these three areas:
- While buying a new house in early 2022, I will look for a well-insulated place, and for a green tariff (electricity coming from renewable generation) while choosing a new provider. I will invest in insulation (walls, loft, double-glazing) if it isn’t there when I move in.
- I will monitor my energy usage on a regular basis and adapt to keep reducing the footprint.
- I will always consider a more environmentally friendly mode of transport (plane versus train; car v public transport; public transport v cycling), and
- I will cut down any unnecessary travel. The pandemic has shown all of us that regular communing or flying around the globe to conferences is not necessary, so I will choose consciously what meeting/events to go to.
- If I have to fly, I will choose the greenest flight for my journey and fly direct. I will also overcome my mistrust for offsetting and will offset my flights. I’d like to support initiatives such as reforestation, forest protection or improving vulnerable communities’ resilience to climate change. I trust Which? Magazine and will use their advice to, ‘instead of using the airlines’ schemes, compare figures with ICAO’s Carbon Emission Calculator and then choose Atmosfair‘s ‘donate directly’ option to make a payment’.
EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY
- I commit to use any opportunity to learn and stay up-to-date with the most relevant research and news about the climate crisis (and its impacts on tourism) through training courses, topical webinars, best practice examples and self-learning
- I commit to educate and inspire my children, friends, colleagues, and neighbours to reduce their carbon footprint and take action. I will even try to influence my parents (the biggest challenge of all!).
- I will actively look for consultancy projects where I can work on the response/adaptation/resilience building to respond to the climate emergency, particularly in my native Poland and other places where the awareness and/response to the climate crisis is low.
- I will used my new role as Communications and Membership Lead for the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group to promote knowledge and capacity building to support the network’s members.
- I will encourage others in my networks to join the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency.
If you work in tourism, please visit Tourism Declares to see how to declare and for many useful resources. The goal is to encourage and enable as many travel companies, organizations and individuals to get involved, declare a climate emergency, and take action.