Tourlane goes beyond carbon neutral to become Planet Positive. We have offset the entirety of our company’s and our travelers' carbon emissions for 2020.
At Tourlane, we believe that travel is an enriching experience that helps us grow as individuals. It’s also an opportunity to give back to the planet we share through embracing new cultures, traditions, and the beauty of the natural world. Travel unites people from all backgrounds, and we want to help ensure that the places we and our customers go to are left as healthy as they were on arrival. As demand for travel increases each year, it’s important to recognize our industry's environmental impact. That’s why Tourlane is stepping up by taking an active role in sustainability and shrinking our company’s footprint. We’re creating an individualized and data-driven approach to offset the entirety of our company’s and our travelers’ carbon emissions. We call this going Planet Positive.
What are the nuts and bolts of Tourlane’s sustainability initiative?
In 2020, we estimate our business operations and our customer trips will generate 100,000 tons of CO2. We’ve already offset the entirety of this amount. To put that in perspective: it’s the equivalent of taking over 34,000 vehicles off the road in the USA—for an entire year. We will continue to assess our estimates throughout the year with our partner Planetly.org, a climate tech organization that’s helping us monitor our carbon footprint.
What’s our plan for the future?
Our initiative in 2020 is just the start of our ongoing work to completely eliminate the carbon emissions of all of our trips. Eliminating carbon emissions while traveling is a massive undertaking, especially with respect to the services that we don’t directly own, but can influence (e.g. flights). We want to use the data to highlight sustainability gaps to eliminate our company’s and our travelers' ecological footprint around the world. Our short-term goal is to share our efforts transparently, coordinating with the travel industry to demand immediate action from the government (e.g. carbon pricing), as well as outliers in our industry.
What does Planet Positive mean to Tourlane?
To us, Planet Positive means investing in local communities and preserving the natural environments that provide authentic experiences and make travel unique. Our goal is to promote responsible, respectful, and sustainable tourism through eco-friendly initiatives. In the process, we eliminate our company’s and our travelers' ecological footprint around the world. Planet Positive is a mindset where we give back to the planet we value.
Why did we choose Planetly.org?
One of our frustrations when trying to find a partner in the carbon offset space was overly general data that went into the calculations. We are serious about offsets being a temporary measure while we work towards reducing our entire ecological footprint. But for that to work, we need to know the specifics about our footprint and where different measures could make the most impact. We wanted a more individual approach to calculation as we push to increase our transparency and accountability while encouraging others to do the same. Enter Planetly.
Learn more about our cooperation here.
Julian Weselek and Julian Stiefel, founders and CEOs of Tourlane, are also flagship supporters of “Leaders for Climate Action”. Leaders for Climate Action is an initiative from over 100 founders and managing directors of start-ups, corporations, and agencies. The aim is to introduce accurate CO2 pricing, expand renewable energy, and reduce company and personal emissions: https://actnow.lfca.earth/e/tourlane/#actnow
What offset projects did you choose?
We chose to support offset projects in Asia, Africa, and South America with an emphasis on projects that additionally support U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for gender equality and eliminating poverty. The types of projects we chose range from cookstove replacement, biomass, wind and solar energy, to hydropower and plastic collection. We did consider other reforestation and afforestation projects, but the problem we have is time. It takes years for a forest to grow to a healthy size, an initiative that can be undone by a simple regulation change, or increase in demand for logging or land. There's an immediacy to our efforts, and we’ve chosen projects that reflect a certain urgency. We’re keeping an open mind, however, and aren’t eliminating the idea of alternative projects in the future.
If you want to find out more about the projects we currently support, please check out https://www.planetly.org/tourlane.
Will it cost me extra?
No. We have actively offset all carbon emissions of our customers’ trips for 2020 without any surcharge. This includes emissions from flights, accommodation, transportation, and food. It's a fundamental part of Tourlane’s responsibility that we do more than just our part in taking care of the planet—it’s intrinsic to our roles as global citizens.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced, directly and indirectly, to support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. An example is the electricity in our homes. Most of the power generating electricity in our homes comes from coal or natural gas; both are fossil fuels and both emit greenhouse gases. The consumption of electricity in our homes is an example of something that contributes to our individual CO2 footprint.
What is an ecological footprint?
An ecological footprint is a metric that measures how fast we consume resources and generate waste compared to how fast nature can absorb our waste and generate new resources. It’s a measure of the human impact on the Earth’s ecosystem, helping us understand the relationship between humans and the environment.
How do you calculate the flight portion?
The calculation of the flight portion is an estimate of an average flight's carbon emissions per customer. We took the percentage distribution of where our customers went in 2019 and used the longest flight segment to those destinations. We then factored those segments into the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) flight emission calculator. That gave us a weighted average per passenger emission calculation of 1.1897 tons per round trip flight, which we then rounded up to 1.19.
How do you calculate the land portion?
The land portion is an estimate of the average day and night carbon emissions per customer. It covers the following: vehicle travel per day, all meals, waste, and accommodation. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) publishes an annual list of global hotel emission factors under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - (BEIS) that we used for the calculation. We then factored in the percentage distribution of where our customers went in 2019.
How do you calculate your company’s emissions?
We calculate our CO2 emissions using consumption data from the electricity, food, drinks, and office supplies that we use. Our business travel, employee commuting, and waste also factor into our calculations.
Are these estimates or actual carbon emissions?
These are estimates, and there are many variables that come into play. We averaged key variables from our travel data in order to come up with a realistic picture. In order to calculate a customer from Europe traveling to Africa, for example, we used a flight from Frankfurt to Cape Town (5,830 miles one-way) as our estimate instead of a flight from Paris to Nairobi (4,032 miles one-way). Of course, we’re fully aware that our estimates may be higher at the end of 2020, a mindset that reflects our ethos of Planet Positive, where we give more than we take.
So these are estimates—when will you know the actual figures?
We regularly assess our estimates versus actuals throughout the year, with the goal of publishing a Sustainability Report at the end of 2020. We’re also going to continuously improve our travel options, data, and company-wide emissions as we move forward. Additionally, many of our customers are already environmentally conscious. They may choose to take public transport instead of driving a vehicle on a leg of their trip, or hire a hybrid vehicle instead of a diesel engine. These details will be part of our calculations for actual emissions.
What if I’ve already purchased carbon offsets?
Then we thank you for going the extra mile! And we’ll still go ahead and offset the entirety of your trip—the bonus for doing more is all yours.
What if the airline already offset my flights?
We’re thankful that some airlines are also leading their own campaigns! We will offset all our customer trips regardless of whether your airline already has, and will keep working on ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint.