We recognize the problem. How can you square climate change as one of the defining challenges of our age while flying halfway around the world on vacation? We hike pristine trails, use public transport and support small local inns and restaurants, but we have a big carbon footprint, and it’s important to take a hard look at our own sustainability efforts and make a climate action plan. With that in mind, Alpinehikers has joined the over 300 global organizations that have signed on to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now commitment.
This commitment means that we pledge to carefully measure our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce them as much possible, and offset the remaining emissions with vetted carbon reducing projects around the world.
We understand that carbon offsets are not a solution to the climate crisis. We also know that traveling to Europe by plane is not sustainable and because of this we are including all Alpinehikers flights (clients too) in our total carbon emissions, offsetting your flight for you. Travel is vital to progress and overall well being but so to is a sustainable world. Offsetting our yearly emissions is a compromise we are willing to invest in while simultaneously reducing our overall carbon footprint where possible.
Calculating CO2 Emissions
As part of our Climate Neutral Now commitment we first had to calculate our baseline emissions at Alpinehikers. To accomplish this we calculated:
- the carbon emission equivalency of energy use at our multiple office locations – 19 tons
- office staff vehicle emissions and miles driven commuting to work – 4 tons
- related emissions during our tour (local trains, luggage transfers, hotel stays, even meals) – 98 tons
- all airline flights related to our operations including our clients – 468 tons
Once we compiled these numbers, we shared our preliminary data with Climate Neutral Now who checked our numbers, validated the process, and increased our total by roughly 10% to account for any extra emissions that may have been overlooked.
Offsetting Our Emissions
As a first step in our climate action plan, we are offsetting our 2019 emissions by investing in a wind development project in Mongolia, the Salkhit Wind Farm. It was not easy to choose a project related to the Alps, but we wanted to fund a renewable energy project in a country that shares a deep connection to the outdoors while also supporting renewable energy, increase of social capital with new jobs and improving air quality while supporting a transition from business-as-usual coal power.
Next Steps in Our Climate Action Plan
After calculating our carbon emissions equivalency for 2019, Carbon Neutral Now requires we construct a plan to reduce our overall emissions with the goal of eliminating them eventually. Our focus now is on reducing our carbon footprint where possible. This means cutting carbon where we can by choosing greener solutions like supporting public transportation for travel and work where, prioritizing local renewable energy both at home and abroad, purchasing local food and products, and educating ourselves on new developments as they present themselves.
In many ways, alpine communities are on the front lines of this issue, with changing weather patterns, shifting seasons, shrinking glaciers and unstable rock faces. If you would like more information, CREA Mont Blanc, a research organization based in Chamonix, is a great source of information for challenges facing the alpine environment.
Climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced. We get it and so do you. At Alpinehikers, we will try to do our part while sharing our beloved Alps in the most authentic way we can – by trail. When you hike near shrinking glaciers and see the quickly retreating and crumbling flanks of the Eiger, you see, feel and hear the realness of climate change. It’s important that we all do our part to combat this massive challenge. Only together will we find lasting success.