Together with our partners we have hit a major milestone, and planted… 1,031,000 trees that will be the equivalent of 169,187 tons of emissions, which is also backed up with certified United Nations renewable energy project investments - which covers travelling 6,747,461,858 kms by train, flying 988,146,494 kms economy (557,614,207 kms business class), driving 1,005,574,122 kms by car, 1 million trees can also cover 644.38 hectares, or 1,591.61 football pitches. A testament that travel can be a force for good, take part in the global efforts to be more regenerative, help reverse climate change and take responsibility for our impact on the wider world.
COP28 which took place in Dubai, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has just finished and the message from the start, was loud and clear; we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and reduce our emissions - ‘trying to try, is simply not good enough’ said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. After two weeks of negociations, a pledge to transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels was agreed by nearly 200 countries.
The burning of fossil fuels has resulted in record temperatures around the world, which are supersizing extreme weather events causing destruction to environments, biodiversity, homes, lives, and livelihoods. We can and must all take the necessary measures to combat climate change - we cannot afford not to - our future depends on it.
Trees4Travel, Trees4Events and their latest initiative ZEERO, winner of the ‘Economic Advancement Award’ presented by A World for Travel and The Tourism Resilience Council, provide the travel industry with the tools to measure, educate and reduce emissions – their hybrid approach on all their products (which always includes the planting of at least 1 tree) also highlights the fact that we cannot fix our world without a combination of actions.
Trees alone, are not enough to stabilize the climate, but we can’t do it without them either. 220 scientists have just published a study in Nature that reaffirms the importance of natural, biodiverse forests in combating climate change. It demonstrates the significant carbon drawdown potential of conserving and restoring natural forests, along with the benefits it creates for local communities and biodiversity, including the astounding potential to capture approximately 226 Gt of carbon, which equates to approximately 30% of our global carbon drawdown goals.
Transitioning to clean energy is equally paramount to stop more pollution going into the atmosphere – and the great news is that investment into renewables has risen by 40% since 2020 (IEA). Meanwhile, whilst the recent 100% SAF Virgin passenger flight is a huge milestone and very exciting, SAF is still extremely scarce, has limitations and challenges, and requires much more investment.
The newly launched ZEERO is part of Trees4Travel’s wider climate strategy; the industry joint venture sustainability fund is an initiative that will allow ownership and voting by its industry partners. Focusing on projects that look at solving the root cause of the climate crisis, by investing in alternative sources of energy such as biofuels from micro sea algae farms and travel related renewable energy projects. A unique opportunity for travel companies to collaborate and make climate contributions to scale up crucial energy solutions for our industry that are good for planet, people, and their balance sheets.
Between January and September 2023, an estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally, the sector is now closing in on 90% of pre-pandemic levels (UNWTO). If every travel company together with their emission reduction plans, had also made a climate contribution of 1 tree for every traveller, the collective positive impact could already have been enormous - in 2023, 975 million trees could have been planted in reforestation projects supporting biodiversity and indigenous communities with an estimated potential draw down of 159,997,500 tons of carbon emissions, couple that with investments into renewables and innovations and we’re on a path to a more regenerative, ethical and sustainable industry.