There’s no doubt about it – we’re in a climate crisis, and we need to take a stand. The IPCC has stated that we need to reduce carbon emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, the Arctic Council has said that the Arctic could be completely ice-free by 2040 if the current global heat trends continue, and the Scientific American says with the current rate of soil degradation, we have approximately only 60 years of farming left. This is beyond scary, and there’s no way of sugar-coating it… we need to push much further than just making sure we recycle more and ban single-use plastics.
That’s why we decided to join many other companies across the travel industry and declare a climate emergency with the Tourism Declares initiative. We love the industry we’re in and all of the benefits tourism brings, but we also know that it contributes greatly to climate change, so we’re committed to improving the impact our business has on the world, reducing our emissions, and educating others on how to do the same.
This is our climate emergency plan.
Measure: With the help of sustainable consultancy ecollective, we created a project to accurately calculate the estimated carbon emissions for all our properties around the world. Their approach allows us to continuously update and calculate our carbon emissions across our portfolio as we make improvements, as well as emissions from our office and business travel. The more information we have the more accurately we can measure carbon emissions. Therefore, we worked on a sustainability questionnaire and sent it out to villa owners to share energy usage as well as other factors such as water usage. For those who don’t get back to us, we use data we have to hand such as the location, size and amenities to provide an estimate calculation that we benchmarked against existing results as well as adding a buffer to over-estimate in order not to slow progress. Ecollective provided the relevant data and know-how to turn the questionnaires (as well as our office operations) into yearly carbon emissions for the business.
As we have properties all over the world we applied data from several sources including DEFRA, IEA & EEA.
We developed a five-point criteria, where properties either need to meet at least four of the checklist points, or three point of the checklist and have a score of 5kg or lower for the total carbon footprint per day, based on full occupancy, per bedroom. If a property meets this criteria then they will be added to our Sustainable Villa Collection, and get further promotion and benefit from more visibility through this.
Our hope is that as the message gets stronger and more villa owners become aware of our initiative and our sustainable collection, they’ll want to get involved and we’ll be in a position where we’ll have data for our whole collection. We’ll use this data as a benchmark to continue to reduce emissions YoY, and help by educating villa owners on how they can reduce their emissions.
Reduce: Our aim is to work to reduce the CO2 output per villa and across the whole business by 10% YoY, and we’ll aim to do this through education, recommendations and affiliate partnerships with companies such as renewable energy providers. We’ve invested in a tree planting initiative with TreememberMe - we understand this isn’t a long-term solution to the growing climate crisis, however it does help us and our customers to counteract the emissions from flights. We’ve begun to promote train travel as a more sustainable way of travelling to some of our destinations, to hopefully reduce some of the emissions that we don’t have direct control/influence over. As time goes on we’d like to look at other rewilding conservation projects, or a measure such as donating a percentage of revenue to fund/impose a voluntary CO2 tax on ourselves per customer to invest in other sustainable projects.
Commitments: We will be surveying villa owners twice a year on their carbon emissions to accurately measure any changes, as well as include this as part of our listing process when we add new properties to our portfolio. We’re committed to keeping the climate crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds with regular email communications, as well as educational content such as resources and guidance on a newly-developed ‘owners hub’ on our blog, and blog/website/social content for customers.
In terms of our portfolio, we will be adding more product within the UK and France to help us encourage greener modes of transport, and all of these commitments, measurements etc will help us on our goal to become a carbon-neutral organisation through a continued reduction in CO2 emissions.
In office: We were already quite a green office before we launched our sustainability initiative, ‘Live a Little Greener’ as our office block uses a renewable energy provider, a zero landfill waste company, and a cycle to work scheme. But now we have introduced office green ground rules, there’s remote working options, and we will be appointing a ‘green team’ to continuously brainstorm and regularly meet to discuss topics of interest and ideas. By no means do we profess to be experts in the world of sustainable travel, but we are starting our journey and look forward to learning more from our peers who have signed up to Tourism Declares, sharing knowledge, helping to fight this climate crisis together, and encouraging others to do the same.