At 50 Degrees North we are committed to making a difference. That is why we have been working behind the scenes to calculate the carbon footprint of our tours. Most things in our life have a carbon footprint, from the manufacture of the shoes you wear, to the milk in your coffee. By clearly labelling our tours with the carbon emissions they generate, it helps our customers to understand the sustainable impact of that tour, and it shows us as a business where reductions can be made.
With over 200 tours on our website we've started by sharing the carbon footprint of our most popular tours, but by 2024 our goal is to publish the footprint of every one of the trips published on our website.
Why are we doing this?
To put it simply; the planet is in crisis. Science has shown that in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and to do that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 50% by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050.
In 2021, along with 300 other tourism companies, we became the first Nordic Tour Operator to commit to combating climate change through the signing of the United Nations Glasgow Declaration; a movement founded during the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow which commits its signatories to the goal of reducing their carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, in line with UN recommendations. This is the most ambitious, but important, movement within the travel industry to combat climate change, and one we are committed to play our part in.
You can read our full Climate Action Plan here
Every tour on our website is now fully carbon offset through verified carbon offsetting schemes, making us a fully carbon neutral tour company. However, carbon offsetting alone is not enough, it is only part of the solution. Our main focus is to bring down our emissions, and measuring, sharing and working towards reducing the carbon footprint of every one of our tours and our own business operations is part of our journey to net zero.
How did we calculate the footprint?
We don't claim to be experts in understanding carbon measurements, so we have collaborated with a company that is. In 2022 we partnered with ecollective, a dedicated carbon consulting firm whose team of experts are passionate about helping companies understand and measure their carbon emissions. Understanding the carbon footprint of every element of our business is an incredibly complex task, and we do not claim that it is perfect, but we are confident that with their assistance we are using the most accurate method that currently exists in the industry.
The footprint shown is the footprint of every element that we include on our tours. So included local transport, accommodation, activities, meals and even the footprint of your tour guide, if that is included. You can see a breakdown of what is included on each trip page.
You can view our detailed methodology here.
As we do not include flights to/from the destinations we have not included the emissions from these in our calculations. However, we are very conscious of the impact of these, with flights typically being the largest carbon emitting aspect of a holiday. Please see our 'Tips for Travellers' section for useful advice on how to book the most fuel-efficient airline, and our recommendations on flight offsetting.
What is the difference between Carbon Neutral and Net Zero?
Being a Carbon Neutral company means that the amount of carbon dioxide that you release as a company is equal to the amount of carbon you are responsible for being taken out of the atmosphere, most typically through carbon offsetting schemes such as tree planting. Net Zero is similar however it has a much larger emphasis on reducing all greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible first, and then whatever emissions are left, only then will the rest be offset. This is a good way of spotting greenwashing in the industry; being carbon neutral alone is not enough, if a company is truly dedicated to combating climate change then they must also have a detailed plan on how they will reduce emissions first.
Why do some of your tours have a higher footprint?
You may have noticed that some of our tours have a comparatively large footprint when compared to others. This can come down to a number of factors, but it often reflects the length of the tour (the longer the tour the higher the footprint), the number of inclusions and also the type of experience it is.
Our tours which include a coastal voyage tend to have a higher footprint as travelling by ship does emit more carbon emissions. As experiencing the Norwegian Fjords by ship is an iconic and important element of many of our passengers' visit to our region, rather than exclude this element, we are committed to improving the sustainability of the experience so have included it in our Climate Action Plan.
What else are you doing to become more sustainable?
Lowering our carbon emissions is just one of the many ways we are committed to creating a more sustainable future. Please see our sustainability page to see what else we are doing.
Read our IMPACT REPORT 2022 here.