As of January 1st 2022, Contiki will be carbon neutral, and we’ve developed a five-point Climate Action Plan to guide us - committing to carbon reductions and evolving to support the transition to a low-carbon future. Here’s where you can find out all the details about how and why we’re doing it, and what it means for you.
First, why did we do this?
We know the climate crisis demands urgent action. We recognize the need for both travelers and travel businesses to take action on climate change and to address our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and so we began our journey to understand and measure the carbon footprint of our trips to do just that. Going carbon neutral is one part of our larger five-point Climate Action Plan we have in place, which is focused on first and foremost reducing our emissions. In the interim, we view investing in carbon credits (which are offsets) as a way to take immediate action to address our unavoidable emissions while we transition towards a low carbon economy. These investments come with positive social impacts that keep local communities thriving by creating jobs, improving health outcomes and promoting local entrepreneurship.
In 2020, Contiki worked with an independent consultant, Synergy Enterprises, to build a customized Trip Carbon Calculator for our team to measure the emissions associated with our trips. Our Trip Carbon Calculator measures the emissions associated with our trips from the moment we pick you up to when we drop you off. It covers all included transport, accommodations and meals. This was a huge undertaking, and some of you might have questions on how, exactly, we did this – well, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room
Our carbon offset covers your trip, it doesn’t include your flight to and from the destination. This is because our travelers come from all corners of the globe, with a lot of variation in distances and ways of traveling – and ultimately each traveler is responsible for their own travel to and from the trip starting point. For some, especially those coming from overseas to join a trip, this flight could be the largest part of your travel carbon footprint. We suggest using our Flight Calculator, powered by our partner South Pole, to purchase carbon credits to offset your personal flight. Please note, any included flights on a Contiki trip will be included in our trip offset.
About our Trip Carbon Calculator
Contiki worked with an independent consultant, Synergy Enterprises, to build a customized Trip Carbon Calculator to help us measure the emissions associated with our trips. Our Trip Carbon Calculator was developed in alignment with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an internationally accepted emissions accounting and reporting standard.
The most relevant and up to date emission factors at the time were selected from international reporting bodies. Emission factors are coefficients that allow us to convert activity data into greenhouse gas emissions. They may differ based on the country or region the activity is taking place in. Where emission factors were not available, custom averages were developed.
1. DEFRA 2019 GHG Conversion Factors
2. International Energy (IEA) Agency Emission Factors 2019
3. Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmark (CHSB) Index 2019
4. CO2 Connect
5. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Energy Use Associated with Production of Individual Self-selected US Diets.
What’s in and out of scope?
Here’s what we considered in scope and our responsibility to offset:
• Transfer emissions: Include emissions from all forms of transportation during a Contiki trip. This includes transfers that are included in the trip and transfers that result from Free Time Add-On experiences. Emissions from transfers are calculated by taking transfer modes, distances, fuel type, passenger numbers and number of vehicles used for selected trips.
• Accommodations emissions: Accommodations emissions are based on average energy consumption by room type from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. A regional energy factor is applied resulting in a unique average for each room type in each region.
• Meal emissions: Emissions from meals have been calculated based on two main identifying factors – buffet vs. non buffet and vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian meals. Synergy Enterprises developed customized emission factors for each meal type that accounts for food production and food waste. Emissions are only calculated for meals included in the trip itinerary.
Here’s what we considered out of scope and will not be included as part of our trip offset:
• Each traveler’s air travel to and from the destination (but you can choose to offset this through our Flight Calculator)
• All pre and post services not included in the base price of the trip
• Emissions produced by facilities or buildings we visit on our trips (ie. museums). These emissions are considered the responsibility of the facility as determined by internationally accepted principles for emissions accounting.
• Meals purchased by the traveler, above those included in the cost of the trip
What is the average carbon footprint per person per day on a Contiki trip?
Using our Trip Carbon Calculator, Contiki calculated the emissions of 40 trips with consideration of region and distance travelled, seasonality, and number of included and optional experiences. We measured these trips to identify an average carbon footprint per passenger, per region, per day.
We took a regional approach to measuring trip emissions, to ensure country and regional specific emission factors were used where possible. Emission factors vary by country and region depending on the source of energy and energy grid. We identified the following average carbon footprint per passenger, per region, per day on a Contiki trip:
• Transport emissions account for the majority of our trip emissions.
• In general, our trips within Africa have the highest footprint because we offer small-group adventures and use smaller vehicles over long distances (during safaris for example). Trips in Africa often include more internal flights that have a higher carbon footprint than transportation by road or rail.
• In general, our trips within Europe and North America have smaller footprints because we have larger group sizes and travel using fuel efficient coaches (Euro 6 in Europe, the most efficient of its kind). We often include rail instead of flights across these regions as well.
• In general, our trips across Latin America, Asia, The Middle East and Oceania cover long distances over short periods using a variety of transport from public ferries, coaches and flights.
How much does it cost to offset my trip?
Contiki will offset your trip by purchasing carbon credits from our carbon offset provider, South Pole.
Beginning in 2022, in partnership with a leading offset provider, South Pole, we will offset your Contiki trip by purchasing carbon credits from a combination of three meaningful carbon offset projects. These projects include Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard projects to guarantee carbon reductions are made, while offering co-benefits that positively impact local communities. You can learn more about our projects here.
What else is Contiki doing to reduce its carbon footprint?
Contiki works closely with our parent company, The Travel Corporation, and has a Climate Action Plan in place. Learn more about it here.
Contiki is taking several steps to reduce its carbon footprint:
• Contiki's Haus Schoneck in Hopfgarten is powered by 100% renewable energy, and our Chateau de Cruix in France is expected to secure 100% renewable energy in 2022.
• We use the most fuel-efficient Euro 6 coaches throughout Europe and coaches in other regions meet or exceed efficiency standards.
• We’re developing more staycation trips for travelers who want to skip a plane ride and travel local
• Where possible, we’re opting to include travel by rail instead of short-haul flights. Trains have a smaller carbon footprint than airplanes and you’ll get a real taste of traveling through the country.
• We’ve launched a new vegan-friendly itinerary and offer vegetarian meals on all our trips – just request this at the time of booking!
• We’re working with partners to increase the use of local food products, reducing GHGs associated with transport and increasing local food security.
• We’re assessing the use of biofuels for our coaches within Europe.
• We’re working with the World Travel and Tourism Council and ABTA on producing road maps for the groups to reach climate neutral by 2050, including engagement with suppliers.
• From 2022, Contiki as a company will be completely carbon neutral. That means we’ll be offsetting our offices, business travel and Trip Manager travel as well.
Our Commitment to Improvement & Transparency
Over time, our goal is to decrease the average trip emissions per passenger, per region, per day, while continuing to increase the accuracy of measuring our trip emissions. While we have had our Trip Carbon Calculator and its methodology reviewed by peers and industry experts, we recognize this is an evolving process and commit to collaborating with the industry and incorporating best practices on measuring and reducing trip emissions. We will review and update the carbon footprint of our trips every two years using an updated Trip Carbon Calculator with the latest emission factors.
In cooperation with our parent company, The Travel Corporation (TTC), we will report and verify our 2022 business and trip emissions with an external third-party auditor in alignment with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
Contact us if you have questions about our approach to measuring Contiki trip emissions or ways to improve.