What’s reducing our carbon impact all about?
Our world is already experiencing some of the impacts of climate change and the science is clear: if we don’t curb our carbon emissions fast, we’re heading for disaster. The tourism industry is responsible for 8% of CO2 emissions (1). While air travel only accounts for around 2% of global emissions, its impact is much greater than this number presents. It also comes almost entirely from a relatively small sector of wealthy society.
This part of our sustainability strategy is all about reducing our carbon impact. Below, we’ll explain what we’re already doing to reduce and offset the emissions we’re responsible for (which includes those created by our customers’ trips with us), and describe how we aim to become increasingly sustainable into the future.
Why we care
At Swoop, we love to explore the great outdoors – it’s why we do what we do. This raises some extremely challenging questions about travelling, including whether it’s even acceptable to fly given the climate crisis.
While we wrestle with these big ethical questions, we continue to send our customers to places that are near-impossible to reach without flying, creating tons and tons of carbon emissions.
Swoop is at the start of our sustainability journey and we still have a long way to go. We have started to make some small but important steps towards reducing our carbon impact (check out our Leading by example page).
We’re also offsetting the emissions we and our customers produce by supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions and deliver wider environmental and social benefits. We accept there are criticisms of offsetting and have therefore carefully chosen those projects with the highest accreditation.
“The paradox is that our customers rarely return from one of our destinations without a strong urge to do what they can to help protect them. As David Attenborough puts it, travel is important because the more we see of the world, the more we want to protect it.”
- Luke Errington, Founder & Managing Director of Swoop
- We will get a clear picture of our annual carbon footprint (including our customer’s travel, our business travel and our operations) so we can set a baseline and report on our progress.
- We will begin reducing our emissions where possible.
- We will offset the emissions of all travel booked for Swoop customers, all travel of Swoop team members and our business operations.
By May 2023, Swoop aims to:
- Significantly reduce our ‘per customer’ carbon footprint.
- Offset all emissions associated with Swoop customer travel to our destinations (even if flights are not booked with Swoop).
- Offset historical carbon emissions of Swoop customers and team members since our founding in 2010.
- Offset more emissions than are generated by our business and customers, and encourage customers to do the same.
Now and next
What we've done so far
- We have worked with an independent consultancy to calculate our estimated carbon emissions for the forthcoming year. We have taken the toughest, most robust calculations of our emissions.
- We have started the B Corps certification process, which demands continual improvements in our environmental performance.
What we're working on
Reducing our emissions
- We will display estimated carbon emissions for each of the trips on our websites. We will also provide all customers with the estimated carbon emissions for their booked trip. We want to empower our customers to make better informed choices, such as switching to lower impact trips or taking fewer trips overall.
- We’re making sure Swoop employee travel is by the greenest means possible, and offset anything with a carbon impact. We’ll look closely at how often we fly, and find alternatives where possible. For example, we’ll ensure that as few staff as possible have to fly to attend our 2020 company summer adventure.
Offsetting our emissions
- We will offset estimated emissions of ground and cruise arrangements booked through Swoop.
- We will offset estimated emissions of flights booked with Swoop.
- We will offset estimated emissions for our business operations and for all business-related travel.
- We will ask our customers to invest in offsetting projects (and will facilitate them doing so through our recommended projects) to help increase our positive impact.
- We will support two certified offsetting projects.
Offsetting our emissions means investing in climate protection projects that remove an equivalent amount of emissions from the atmosphere. For example, if we emit 10 tonnes of CO2, we can offset that by investing in a project (like those described below) that prevents a separate 10 tonnes from being emitted in the future.
One of the issues with offsetting is that the calculation of impact is often too low. To make sure we avoid this, our independent consultancy takes two important factors into account:
- Radiative forcing - you can’t measure a flight’s impact just by measuring how much fuel is burned. For example, a plane emits other gasses, plus soot and contrails, all of which contribute to atmospheric warming. What’s more, emitting carbon emissions high in the atmosphere is more harmful than at ground level. Radiative forcing is a multiplier we can use to more accurately gauge the impact of a flight.
- Indirect emissions - a plane’s impact isn’t just about the fuel it burns during flight. Indirect emissions are all those created as a result of the flight - such as when its fuel was drilled for, transported and refined, or during the manufacture of the plane itself. Our calculations take this impact into account.
How we offset
We’ve chosen two projects to support - both of which are certified by Gold Standard (an independent certification body set up by WWF and other NGOs in 2003).
50MW Godawari Green Energy Limited project
This project has brought state-of-the-art solar thermal power to Rajasthan in India. By supplying 118,866 MWh net electricity to the grid per year, this new source of clean energy is on track to avoid the emission of 113,160 tonnes of CO2 per year.The project also supports social improvements in the region, such as supplying hospitals and health centres with air-conditioning and solar-powered lighting and distributing rooftop solar panels in villages that are not connected to the grid.
Photo: EnKing International
Nanyang Danjiang River Solar Cooker Project
This project is located in the southwest of Henan Province, one of the poorer regions of China. Our funding will support the project to distribute and install 48,000 solar cookers to rural households, replacing traditional, inefficient coal-fired cooking stoves and avoiding up to 93,962 tonnes of emissions every year. As well as reducing the use of coal for cooking, these stoves greatly improve indoor air quality, benefiting the health of residents. The solar power generates enough heat to cook the local staple food of rice and the stoves’ design is ideal for the region’s sunny climate.
Photo: China Carbon NV
Leading By Example
Getting our house in order means addressing what Swoop buys, how we travel and run our offices. We'll report our progress as we work towards our B-Corp certification.
The things we choose to buy, use and do have an impact on the environment. We’re starting by helping our customers reduce their impact.
Introducing Our Sustainability Strategy
These pages tell the story of our commitment to sustainability and our promise to you, our customers, to protect this planet and its most precious places.