Juho Kuva, Visit Finland

Our Climate Action Plan

During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North Nordic, along with 300 other tourism companies, became one of the founding signatories of the Glasgow Declaration. Here is our plan forward.

During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North Nordic, along with 300 other tourism companies, became one of the founding signatories of the Glasgow Declaration. Formed collaboratively between the UNWTO, UNEP, VisitScotland, Tourism Declares and Travel Foundation, it unites our sector in a shared commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and commits its signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving a net-zero sector by or at the latest by 2050.

Understanding Sustainability terms in tourism can be complicated, so that is why we’ve created a simple 5-step Climate Action Plan to communicate what we are doing to address our own greenhouse gas emissions.

Harri Tarvainen, Visit Finland

Step 1: Measure

In order to begin reducing our emissions, the first step is to measure them.

To do so we partnered with E-collective, a dedicated carbon consultancy who use GHG protocol (the global standard framework for measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)) to measure the entire carbon footprint of our company, from the emissions we generate from our offices, to the tours themselves. These can be summarized as our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Scope 1: Direct emissions. These are emissions from any sources that 50 Degrees North either own or have direct control over i.e. from air conditioning units, or any company vehicles that we own.

Scope 2: Indirect emissions from any purchased or acquired energy for our offices.

Scope 3: Indirect emissions from sources that are not owned or controlled by 50 Degrees North. This refers to all of the emissions from our activities, such as our business travel and the tours that we sell, including accommodations, activities, all transportation and meals.

We decided to focus on 2019 as our ‘base’ year, the first year in which we will measure our emissions. Due to the Covid Pandemic in 2020 and 2021 these were not typical years for our company, so it made sense to look at the closest pre-pandemic year in which to start measurements.

The Results

Our emission breakdown:

At 50 Degrees North we have been working hard to reduce the emissions from our own offices, with thorough policies advising our staff on how to be more efficient with energy and waste. As a result, our own Scope 1 & 2 emissions are low and make up a very small part of the overall picture, with most of our emissions coming from the tours that we run. As such, although there are additional small actions we can take to further reduce the footprint of our offices, our action plan is focused primarily on reducing the footprint of the tours themselves – as this will have the greatest impact.Screen Shot 2022-11-08 at 2.21.02 pm
Carbon Footprint per Customer:Screen Shot 2022-11-08 at 2.22.11 pm
What does this mean?Screen Shot 2022-11-14 at 10.59.14 am
How does that breakdown per customer?Screen Shot 2022-11-11 at 2.35.43 pm

What have we measured?

The carbon footprint per customer consists of the elements that we include on our itineraries, such as accommodation, transfers, activities and excursions, any internal flights and any meals as listed on the itinerary. We have also added the associated footprint of what is involved in putting the tour together; the emissions from our HQ (office, staff travel etc). We have not included elements not included on the itinerary and therefore out of our control, such as meals or activities not included.

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. A return flight from Melbourne to Oslo is a staggering 2400kg CO2 per person, or to put that into perspective, it would make up 75% of the total carbon footprint of the trip. As a result we have decided to build into our Climate Action plan ways in which we can support our customers in making the most sustainable choices in regards to booking flights, in order to mitigate that impact.

Step 2: Reduce

Running sustainable and environmentally friendly tours has been one of the founding principles of 50 Degrees North since our company began in 2010. As such we already have many measures in place to ensure low emissions on our tours. This includes:

Our Norway and Australian offices are run largely on renewable energy (our US office is located in a shared co-working space, which has been given Energy Star rating for its efficient energy use, but is not currently run on renewable energy).

Green Office Policy. Since 2019 we have had detailed policies for staff on how to lower the carbon footprint of our offices. This includes keeping our offices paper free, banning single use coffee cups and water bottles from all offices and energy, waste and water saving tips

Prioritizing working with suppliers who have environmental certificates and sustainable policies in place.

We encourage our customers to take longer journeys with an emphasis on slow travel and spending longer in each destination. Not only does this allow the customer to immerse themselves more in the experience, but taking fewer, but longer, holidays as opposed to multiple short trips reduces the overall carbon footprint

We have a range of low carbon tours, with a dedicated sections of the website focused on trekking, cycling, train and slow travel tours.

However, we recognize that more needs to be done. In order to reduce our own emissions by 50% by 2030, our own Climate Action Plan looks to reduce our own emissions by, on average, 7% year-on-year from 2022, to reach our target by 2030. Our emission target for 2023 is 562 CO2e per person.Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 8.34.48 pm

Our 2022/2023 climate action goals:

Carbon Labelling on our top-selling tours

Working with Ecollective, we have measured every single element of every tour that we run. In 2023 we will begin to use this data to put carbon labels on each of our tours to better understand the carbon footprint of each tours. This way we can help our clients make sustainable choices. We will begin with Carbon Labelling on our top-selling tours, and in 2024 we hope to be able to expand this to all tours listed on our website. We also have ambitious goals to be able to provide this data on each of our tailor-made quotes. While our current technology does not support this, this is something that we are working on.

Increase the percentage of low carbon activities that we offer

We will expand and improve on our existing range of low carbon activities we offer to our clients. In addition to this we will improve how we communicate these options with our clients, including creating ‘labels’ on our website and quotes to make it easier for customers to pick the activities with the lowest carbon footprint.

Increase the percentage of accommodations that we work with that use renewable energy

We select our accommodations carefully, preferring to work with those that support local communities and have environmental certificates in place. In addition to this we will assess partners to gain a greater understanding of which are powered on renewables, in order to increase this year on year. We are very fortunate that the Nordics are world leaders in renewable energy, as such we must ensure that we continue to work with partners that utilize on this.

Reduce the number of internal flights booked

Due to the long distances involved, time constraints, and a lack of public transport infrastructure in some locations, it can be difficult to travel around the Nordics without the use of internal flights. However, flights are one of the worst offenders when it comes to carbon emissions, with a return flight from Oslo to Kirkenes being as much as 200kg CO2 per person. Conscious of this, we have only 1 itinerary on our website which includes an internal flight. However, for our tailor-made tours, we will continue to educate our team on how to create itineraries that reduce the need for these.

Increase the percentage of electric vehicles we use for touring or transfers

We will continue to investigate options for electric vehicle use on our tours, to create itineraries that include charging facilities in accommodations and routes.

Offer our clients the most carbon efficient options for cruise and ferry

The Norwegian Coastal Voyage has often been described as “the world’s most beautiful voyage”, and it is an iconic and important part of many of our clients visit to our region, and a vital source of income to many isolated settlements along the Norwegian coastline. Hence it is important that we continue to support these voyages, while we are aware that they make up a large part of our overall carbon footprint. We will continue to keep abreast of the industry’s efforts to de-carbonize, to ensure that we are offering our clients the most sustainable and fuel-efficient options.

Flights

Whilst we do not book flights to the destination and this element of our trips is therefore out of our control, we are conscious of the large volumes of emissions that these generate. Therefore, we are keen to support our customers in making the most sustainable choices. In 2023 we will;

Give guidance to our clients on how, and where, they can book the most fuel-efficient airlines which have the lowest carbon footprint

Advise our clients on how they can offset their flights with gold-certified carbon offsetting schemes
cropHavila Castor in Trollfjorden photo Marius Beck Dahle

Step 3: Offset

A carbon offset is the removal or reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. We believe that an avoided emission is better than an offset emission, which is why our Climate Action Plan is focused primarily on ambitious reduction goals. While offsetting, is not the solution in itself, it should still be seen as a positive action that can be taken with any remaining emissions that are generated.

We have partnered with the Norwegian offsetting company Chooose, selecting gold-standard certified carbon credits which support renewable energy projects worldwide.

In 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 we will offset all our Scope 1 & 2 emissions.

In 2023 we will begin to offset the emissions for Scope 1, 2 & 3 for all our tours, with the intention of becoming a fully carbon neutral tour company by 2024.

Step 4: Collaborate

Making real and positive change will take a combined effort across the tourism industry. As such we call upon our industry partners to commit to reducing their carbon footprint, and join us in signing up to the Glasgow Declaration or committing to science based targets.

We commit to offering transparency in our approach, sharing best-practices, challenges and solutions, and welcome feedback and an open-dialogue with suppliers and industry-piers.

We will be sharing a more detailed methodology, to offer support in the goal of becoming net-zero.

Please contact nordic@fiftydegreesnorth.com with any questions.

Step 5: Evolve

Our Climate Action Plan is a working document, which we will continue to adapt and improve on as progress is made. Each year we aim to be better and we do not have all the answers now.

The industry is evolving and advancements in technology, and how measurements are taken, are regularly announced which will steer and influence our own policies. We commit to deepening our understanding of these advancements, to ensure that we are using this information to make more informed decisions as to how best we can meet our targets

Image: Marius Beck Dahle, Havila, Harri Tarvainen and Juho Kuva, Visit Finland

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