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Projects Abroad Declares a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency

By Greg Thomson | 03rd November, 2021
Updated on 04th November, 2021

PROJECTS ABROAD DECLARES A CLIMATE AND BIODIVERSITY EMERGENCY

We are in a climate and biodiversity crisis. 

 

At Projects Abroad, we believe that international travel, rather than being a contributor to the crisis, can be a major part of the solution. 

 

For decades, we’ve mobilised the enthusiasm of our volunteers, and the funds they bring, to help combat environmental degradation. Since 2015, we’ve collected 82 tonnes of plastics, planted 130,000 trees, released 320,000 turtle hatchlings, and removed 2,245 snares to name just a few initiatives. We also offset 100% of carbon emissions from the flights we book.

 

However, we realise that this is not enough and we need to do more. That’s why we’ve made the commitment to be fully climate positive in 2023. We will achieve this by measuring and decarbonising all our operations and projects. We will focus more of our volunteer projects on initiatives that benefit the environment. This means expanding our reforestation, rewilding, regeneration, and animal release efforts. We also commit to increasing employment in local communities we serve around the world. This is incredibly important for conservation, because it creates viable local economic alternatives in rural areas, and increases the value of conserving natural landscapes.

 

We are more than the sum of our parts. The only way we’ll successfully decarbonate travel is for all organisations related to international travel to collaborate together. That’s why we are declaring a Climate Emergency, as part of the Tourism Declares initiative and signed the Glasgow Declaration, and encourage others to do the same.

As part of Tourism Declares, and by declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency, we are publicly committing to the following actions:

 

1. We publicly accept the current IPCC advice that we need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming.

 

2. We are developing a Climate Change Action Plan with a science-based target to become climate positive in 2023.

 

3. We commit to publicly communicating both our plan and our progress.

 

4. We will work with our partners and competitors, to encourage them to make their own declaration, and with the Tourism Declares community to share best practices and solutions with the wider travel industry.

 

5. We recognise the need for system change across the industry, and will join others in calling for urgent regulatory action to accelerate the transition towards zero-carbon air travel.

 

 

OUR CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

We’ve made the commitment to be fully climate positive in 2023. We intend to achieve this by following a 4-point plan:

 

1. Measure our carbon emissions 

The first step is to measure and transparently publish our carbon impact. A specialist consultancy firm is helping us validate the calculations. We are categorising our emissions into three main areas; staff and offices, projects, and volunteer flights using the ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator. 

Our intention is to label all our projects so you’ll know the estimated carbon emissions for each one before booking. 

We will produce an annual progress report and publish it on our website.

 

2. Reduce our carbon footprint 

Before we offset, we want to reduce our footprint. We will do this by:

  • Aiming to ensure at least 90% of food provided across our trips is locally sourced, meaning it’s not been transported long distances.
  • Eliminating the use of single-use plastics across our trips as quickly as possible (plastic contains lots of ‘embodied carbon’).
  • Transitioning to 100% renewable energy in all our offices by 2023.
  • Weighing and recycling all office waste such as old tech equipment, food waste, and furniture.
  • Creating all new projects with the goal of reducing its carbon emission as much as possible. This means replacing internal flights with trains and other public transport wherever we can.
  • Running awareness campaigns to encourage the public to make climate-conscious changes
  • Creating organic vegetable gardens in schools that reuse recycled plastic bottles
  • Running projects dedicated to plastic clean-ups

 

3. Offset 110% of our emissions

We don’t plan to just offset our carbon emissions from staff and offices, projects, and volunteer flights; we aim to be climate positive. This means going a step further than carbon neutral, by saving more greenhouse gas emissions than we’re generating.

We have a long-standing carbon management program. We have many Conservation projects around the world and since 2015, we have planted 130,000 trees - 80,000 of which are mangroves – through these projects. Mangroves are essential in the fight against climate change, since they are two to four times more efficient at storing carbon dioxide, and therefore greater at offsetting carbon emissions than other forests. To date, in Fiji alone, our volunteers have planted over 15 acres of mangroves since the project’s inception in 2014.

We will expand our mangrove planting and reforestation efforts in line with our carbon emissions to make sure we offset 110% in 2023.

4. Innovate 

At Projects Abroad, we love to innovate and we’ll continue to do so to help with the climate and biodiversity emergency. We have already expanded our conservation efforts to focus more on rewilding, regeneration and regreening initiatives and will look into further innovative initiatives. But it’s more than just reforestation. We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis and the primary goal of our Conservation projects are to improve and secure the biodiversity of flora and fauna of the areas we’re based. As the human population increases, natural habitats and resources are declining. This has a devastating impact on wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems. Our projects are aimed at reversing this trend by rehabilitating and releasing animals into the wild, clearing alien plant species, deterring poachers, surveying and recording animal behaviour, to name but a few. Our expert Conservation staff will continue to find new ways to support and protect the delicate ecosystems where we work. 

We are also developing new projects in our award-winning Ethical Consumerism Trips to add to our existing Fast Fashion Awareness and Plastics Education and Recycling trips.   These trips teach about the ethical and sustainable production of wine, coffee, chocolate, or fashion. Participants learn first-hand the social, environmental, and economic impact of the products we buy. This will help us make more informed decisions, and become responsible consumers. 

We will also continue to deepen our commitment to the local communities we serve. This means giving good quality full-time employment and training opportunities to local people and placing our volunteers predominantly in local host families paying them rather than hotels.  

Our plans are evolving continuously based on learning and sharing. If you have suggestions or insights that can help us improve, just email support@projects-abroad.org anytime. 
 

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