Tag Archive for Carbon Offsetting

2012 – a very Responsible year!

I’ve been trying to look back on some of the things that we have achieved over the last year in our efforts to always act sustainably, responsibly and ethically, and give back to the local communities that welcome us so generously on all of our challenges. It was only when I started looking through everything that has happened that I realized what a long year it has been! From our Essex2India cycle ride with Lydia Bright and Denise Van Outen, to launching the business in Canada and landing two Canadian exclusive challenges in 2013 with UNICEF and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, not to mention the team changes with the leaving and hiring of several new staff members… 2012 seems to have passed in a blur!!
Looking back has been useful; because it has given us all a chance to plan forward… we can see what we have achieved, and what there is still left to do. With that in mind, here are my top 5 Responsible Tourism highlights of 2012. Enjoy!

5. The Rainforest Alliance conference
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go to a conference hosted by the Rainforest Alliance, celebrating their 25 years. I wrote about the conference in my blog shortly after, but what impressed me the most (and why it deserves to be in my top 10) is that the conference went right to the heart of what sustainability will mean for future economies, focusing in particular on South American and African countries. It showed the important part that western businesses play in supporting other economies… not through charity, but through buying ethically produced goods and on the understanding that this benefits everyone involved.

4. Building schools in Brazil and Nepal
Little known fact about Charity Challenge – most of our business used to be made up of running Community Challenges for exclusive charity or corporate groups, all with the aim of contributing to schools, homes and other building projects, in the developing world. Sadly the call for these types of challenges decreased as the more adventurous trips to Kili and Everest took over, but this year we sent two groups out to Brazil and Nepal to contribute to building projects in some of the poorest areas of the countries. Significant progress was made, with houses being re-roofed, proper windows put in, ceilings plastered and walls painted, not to mention the houses that were completely started from scratch. Everything is done with the help of a proper construction supervisor, group leader and trained crew – to make sure the houses are well made and sturdy.

3. Climate Care and ‘Carbon for Water’
This year we made a payment to Climate Care of just over £23 000 to offset our carbon emissions. Since 2007 we have offset over 10 000 tonnes of fuel, which is the equivalent of taking more than 3000 cars of the road for a year… hmmm fresh air! The money goes to fund carbon reduction projects like the Kenyan project Carbon for Water. This short video will tell you more in a few minutes than I could explain in the next ten pages, but in short, the project distributes simple gravity fed water filters, providing safe water to 4.5 million people in Kenya. It was recently featured in the Guardian, and we are incredibly proud of having contributed to it.

2. Local project support
For each participant that takes on a challenge with us, we make a donation to a local charity or project that works and concentrates aid in the country that the participant is travelling to. This is a long-term commitment of ours, and one that deserves to be at number two on the hit list! Projects who have thanked us and benefited from the support are as wide ranging as the International Porter Protection Group for our Nepal and Stok Kangri trips (IPPG); a small orphanage in Romania for our Trek Transylvania; Community Projects Africa for all Kili adventures and the Sumatran Orangutan Society for our Sumatran Jungle Trek. To read more about the projects that we support, click here. Needless to say we are pleased and proud to have supported so many this year.

1. The Deepen Rai foundation
A sobering note on which to end the round up, but a fitting end nonetheless. We sadly lost one of our most amazing and talented guides this year, Deepen Rai. He has led many, many of our Stok Kangri and Everest Base Camp challenges, and he sadly died in a plane crash while taking a group of British trekkers from another UK tour operator. We had thought to set up a fund in his name, and by cooperating with the other operator in question we have contributed a great deal, with the help of some extremely kind donations from YOU. We are still in talks with Deepen’s wife regarding where the money should be used. Deepen was the sole earner, and he had a wife and children who depended on his income, as well as helping to support a project in the Himalayan region of Nepal. The money will continue to support them, although it still cannot replace the loss of a husband and father.

So a year of ups and downs, providing lots of food for thought. I haven’t even mentioned World Responsible Tourism day on the 7th November, but that’s another story. It has been, on the whole, a good year, and we are looking forward to some exciting things ahead for 2013 so watch this space!

From all at Charity Challenge we wish you a very Happy, Healthy and RESPONSIBLE Christmas period!!

Carbon Offsetting… It’s only fair

 It’s only fair…

As you psyche yourself up for the challenge you have set yourself, focussed on achieving your goals and raising much needed funds for your selected charity, we think it’s only fair we ensure that you can rest easy with regard to your impact on the environment.

So, five years ago we made a decision to offset carbon emissions from all our staff and customer flights, helping to protect the environment and improve the lives of millions of people across the world. We are delighted to report that we have now offset over 10,000 tonnes of CO2, that’s like taking more than 3000 cars off the road for a year.

I hear the sceptics amongst you ask – does carbon offsetting really help the environment?

We are convinced that it does. Even with the most determined efforts to cut emissions, we are all still responsible for carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. We can choose to ignore this and take no action. Or we can take responsibility and ensure that an equivalent amount of carbon is reduced elsewhere by carbon reduction projects.

And, as renowned environmentalist Jonathan Porritt recently said:

“If we are serious about tackling climate change – and the latest evidence from the Arctic underlines the urgency of doing so – then sound, science-based offsets should be a vital part of our toolkit. We simply cannot achieve the scale and speed of carbon reductions required by curbing our own emissions alone. But by investing in best quality offsets, we can start to make the sweeping cuts needed – while at the same time helping improve people’s quality of life in the here and now. It honestly should be a ‘no brainer’!” 

We work with industry experts ClimateCare to support projects that not only cut carbon emissions but save lives. How is that possible? Through offsetting emissions with world first, award winning projects like Carbon for Water.

This short video will tell you more in a few minutes than I could explain in the next ten pages, but in short, the project distributes simple gravity fed water filters, providing safe water to 4.5 million people in Kenya.

The filters mean women and girls no longer need to spend hours every day, collecting firewood to boil water and making it safe to drink. In this way the project cuts more than 2 million tonnes of CO2 a year. It also reduces waterborne diseases and reduces health problems caused by exposure to smoky fires.

Projects like this are made possible by money generated through sale of the carbon reductions to companies like us. And we are proud to support them on your behalf.

To learn more about all our charity challenges, and find out how else we get involved with responsible tourism you can read our Responsible Tourism policy here, and you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com . To keep up to date on all our challenge news, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Climate Care helps us beat the audit blues!

It’s audit time again, and our financial team are having end of financial year blues! I’m sure many of you out there can appreciate this feeling… it’s something that comes around once a year. Rather than experiencing the infamous post-Christmas depression, it’s that time of year when spreadsheets and number crunching starts to take over our lives, and the office turns into a frenzy of paperwork and reports…

That’s the bad news. The good news is that each year, around this time, we at Charity Challenge make our annual carbon offset payment to climate and development experts, ClimateCare, the excellent organization with which we work to offset the emissions produced from each flight, for every participant and staff member who has travelled with us the last year.

To put it briefly, over the last year we sent over 1500 participants on challenges around the world. For each person, we use ClimateCare’s calculator to calculate how many tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere on each overseas flight. We then make a payment at the end of each year, which goes towards ClimateCare’s projects which  not only reduce carbon emissions, but also deliver wider social, health and environmental benefits, making a real,  difference to people in some of the poorest areas of the world.

This year we are making a huge payment of just over £23 000! And in fact, the reductions made from 2008 to now have been enough to ground the equivalent of about 20 full flights (assumed 348 passengers) from London Heathrow to New York JFK.

We are amazingly proud and pleased to be affiliated with ClimateCare. As a company, ClimateCare develops emission reduction projects throughout some of the world’s less-developed countries[SB1] , with a particular emphasis on sustainable development. The offsets we purchase help to fund a portfolio of projects in many cases  situated in countries where we have challenges, such as Brazil and Indonesia. An example is the Wayang Windu Geothermal plant in Indonesia.  Carbon finance is funding the second phase of this power plant, which uses heat from under the earth’s surface, displacing fossil-fuelled grid electricity.

Responsibility in tourism is becoming more and more pressing, as scientists, environmentalists and experts within the travel industry continue to discover how detrimental a poorly operated travel expedition can be to the environment, societies and communities visited. Think about all the waste created by fast food; vast amounts of packaging; electricity and air conditioning left on in rooms; excessive use of water to rehydrate and cool down, and, obviously, the emissions given off in international flights. Added up this sounds difficult to combat. Why not just give up travelling abroad altogether? The fact is that tourism plays a huge role in creating jobs and bringing in money to local economies. Being responsible is a duty of all tour operators, in order to help to create better places to visit, as well as a positive experience for the local people by engaging them in our activities as much as possible.

At Charity Challenge this responsibility begins in transit, by helping to fund projects which fund clean renewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency in some of the countries we visit. More importantly, it helps us to repair some of the damage that we cause to the atmosphere when arranging international flights for our participants.

To read about the projects you can visit ClimateCare’s website, and to find out more about Charity Challenge’s dedication and commitment to making our operations more ‘responsible’, check out our Responsible Tourism pages and download our RT policy. These are soon to be revamped, so watch this space!

Earth Day – Why not make it every day?

I saw a funny picture on the Internet yesterday. It was an immense tornado circling over Kansas just last week. The caption read ‘A new poll suggests the public feels Global Warming is real’.

Considering that fears about drastic climate change due to the overheating of the planet were first expounded by scientists over 100 years ago, how is it possible that ‘The Public’ have only just realised that this theory is very much a reality? Sunday the 22nd of April 2012 (yesterday)  marked the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, a celebration designed to educate the world’s population (using the catchy slogan ‘Mobilise the Earth) on the catastrophic effects of climate change and global warming. It is now the biggest civic observance in the world, working hard to convince ‘The Public’ to take their heads out of the sand.

The crew at Earth Day are mobilising billions of people across the world to participate in activities and contribute to their ‘Billion Acts of Green’, which is an amazing way for a regular Joe Bloggs to do anything, something, to make a change. But how far does this go? Are people using Earth Day to make themselves feel better about the rest of the year when they don’t cycle to work, don’t eat locally sourced produce and leave the tap running while washing up?

Perhaps instead of assuaging our guilty consciences by recycling for one day, we should take the time to think about the civic attitudes and environmental concerns that sparked off this global movement in the first place. It isn’t enough simply to say that we will ‘take shorter showers’, or, as I saw in one of the Acts of Green, ‘I will not flush the toilet for a day’. Fair enough, the water saved by doing this is pretty good, particularly if you live in a family of 3 or 4 people. But how sustainable is it? Wouldn’t it be better to, say, install a water-efficient showerhead as a more permanent measure, or instead of shortening your shower by 10 minutes for one day, make the conscious effort to shorten it for a minute or two permanently, saving you up to 150 gallons per month. Good for the water bill as well as the earth!

It’s just too easy to see Earth Day as a day where we can say that we are ‘environmentally conscious’. If you can walk to the shops instead of driving for one day, then why not do it every Sunday? Or every day? We can’t get complacent about this. This is especially true within the travel sector, where long-haul flights are massively detrimental to the environment. These flights are, unfortunately, an unavoidable part of running a tour operating business – this is why at Charity Challenge we have linked up with Climate Care to offset the emissions of the international flights of all our participants. By investing in development projects in areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and forest restoration, we at least know that we are contributing something to the damaging effects that flying has on the environment. For more information on Climate Care and carbon offsetting, please click here.

To help foster understanding on the connection between Earth Day and the Charity Challenge mentality, we need to make all of our clients, charity partners and participants see that responsible tourism is not just a marketing fad for us. A good sustainability program can make a real difference to the planet, and most importantly, it really isn’t difficult to do. We source local guides and use locally produced food, which brings jobs and money into the economy in more than just a fleeting way. We strive to ensure that all the local accommodation used is ‘green’ and not wasteful of water, gas or electricity, and for each and every participant travelling with us, we make a donation to a local project or charity in the country they are visiting. These are just some of the things that we do – to read more on how Charity Challenge support Earth Day every day, and what you can do on your travels to contribute, please read the Responsible Tourism section of our website.

So to summarise, the crux of the matter is this – remember those cute but deadly Polar Bear babies in Frozen Planet? Imagine that the Polar ice melts and takes out Greenland in a deluge of water. No more fluffy bears, or Santa Claus for that matter. The weather in the UK turns weird… no wait, that’s happening already… and the price of fuel goes up. Oh, that one did too. All of these things realistically could and in some cases are happening! It may be too late to prevent it, but we need to try.

Join the global movement by visiting www.earthday.org/2012. And don’t stop there. Try to make Earth Day last EVERY day.

Where does your carbon offsetting money go?

We are proud to announce we have now offset a massive 7,308.79 tonnes of CO2 on behalf of our passengers and our office here in North London since 2008. This is equivalent to taking 1,200 cars off the road in the UK for a year, or grounding 16 full flights from London to New York. Something we are very proud of.

With the help of ClimateCare, the money that we have contributed to offset the CO2 from our customers’ flights and office energy has gone to help such projects as efficient cook stoves programmes, which replace open fires or other less efficient stoves.

Nearly half of the world’s population still cook their meals on open fires or basic stoves and the smoke that fills the home blackens the lungs of mothers and children.  For years development groups have been trying to promote the use of efficient cookstoves, which bring a whole treasure-chest of benefits:  by burning more efficiently they produce less smoke and use less firewood; saving money, time and fast depleting forests. One of their greatest benefits is, quite simply, saving lives.  By cutting down indoor smoke pollution, these stoves help drastically cut instances of pneumonia, saving children’s lives:  according to the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia (GAPP), the humble efficient cookstove is a major weapon in the fight against this horrible disease.

ClimateCare is an independent profit-for-purpose company, and one of the longest established and leading environment-focused organisations in the carbon market, developing carbon credits on behalf of businesses, Non Governmental Organisations and Sovereign States.  ClimateCare uses carbon finance not just to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions but to accelerate sustainable, development, through innovative Emission Reduction Projects throughout the world

We would like to say a huge thank you from everyone here at Charity Challenge for the work that ClimateCare do, and we look forward to another year of mutual support!

To learn more about the responsible tourism work we do and to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list. You can also read more about our responsible travel policy and practices on our website.