Carbon Footprint Offset Annual Report

1. Background

Climate change is a change in climate attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

Climate change is one of the main threats to sustainable development and constitutes a major global challenge, as it is causing environmental impacts on the global economy, health, biodiversity, the environment and human well-being.

Responsible Travel is an inbound tour operator that strives to do what it can to mitigate and compensate for the effects of its economic activity on the environment. In this way, the organization focuses on being part of sustainable tourism, which, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), is defined as “tourism that aims to satisfy the needs of tourists and tourist destinations, protecting and increasing future opportunities”.

Within this framework, it is necessary to consider that the tourism industry has certain activities that result in unavoidable carbon emissions, so it is essential to take action against them. For example, air, land, or water transportation that passengers must use to travel while using the tourist service; or the imminent impact that human visits to natural or protected areas implies.

As a way of taking action, Responsible Travel has included within its policies a section that specifically refers to its environmental behavior, in such a way that it details the good practices of the organization, as well as the way in which the tourist can contribute by being responsible and conscious with society and nature.
Its environmental policy states what Responsible Travel undertakes to do in four essential areas:

– Electric power resource
– Waste management
– Natural, protected and conservation areas
– Environmental education

In the same way, considering that carbon footprint offsetting can be done through socio-cultural contributions, Responsible Travel also establishes within its regulations a Socio-Cultural Policy. In addition, strict purchasing, supply and supplier policies, operational policies, and business ethics, which establish a responsible attitude towards the environment and communities.

To fulfill its purpose, Responsible Travel works together with the Amazon Productive Foundation, in reforestation and community development projects.

2. Calculation of CO2 emissions

Responsible Travel, in order to measure the CO2 emissions from its activities, primarily relies on the calculator provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency established in 1944 by the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The ICAO is responsible for addressing issues related to international civil aviation and promoting consistent regulations and standards in global aviation.

Considering the destination and the number of passengers, the ICAO calculator allows us to estimate the approximate carbon emissions that need to be mitigated and offset. It’s important to consider the potential margin of error associated with this calculation.

The values used for the calculation are updated monthly throughout the year 2022.

Table 1: Tons of carbon emitted

Year

Approximate No. of Passengers

Approximate tnCO2 emitted

2022

445 pax

376,20 tnCO2

To monitor the compensation efforts being undertaken, Responsible Travel commits to conducting periodic assessments of the monetary value equivalent to the amount of emitted CO2. This is done in order to estimate the required investment for addressing these emissions and to establish a benchmark against which the actual results can be verified.

Given all the aforementioned considerations, the information provided by the Carbon Footprint organization has been adopted as the foundation. Carbon Footprint’s objective is to assist businesses of all sizes in achieving carbon neutrality by investing in various projects initiated by the organization.

Table 2: Dollars per ton of CO₂

Project

Dollars per Ton of CO₂

Reforestation in America

$ 9,87

Community projects

$ 11,28

3. Mitigation and compensation methods implemented

As part of our commitment to corporate responsibility, we have implemented methods of mitigation and compensation, along with a sustainability policy that addresses the following areas. These are outlined on our website and shared with all stakeholders.

It’s important to note, within this context, that carbon footprint compensation extends not only to environmental considerations but also encompasses social aspects. Hence, we provide an overview of the responsible business practices carried out by Responsible Travel under the framework of Responsible Business Conduct.

a. Responsible use of transportation during our services

As one of the main activities carried out to mitigate CO₂ emissions as much as possible, Responsible Travel maintains agreements with transportation suppliers that have the fleet in the best possible conditions and as stipulated in the supplier policies, prioritize those that have certifications of ethics and social and environmental responsibility.

b. Sustainable Programs in partnership with Fundación Amazonía Productiva (FAP)

Part of Responsible Travel’s carbon footprint offsetting actions is to contribute to sustainable and verifiable projects that provide an environmental and social benefit, contributing in some way with a grain of sand to the fight against climate change and that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the planet. It is for this reason that it has joined in cooperation with the Amazon Productive Foundation to meet this fundamental objective.

The cooperation with FAP is based on working hand in hand in two main areas: one environmental and the other of a social nature.

i. Environmental: Sustainable Reforestation Program

Responsible Travel is currently the main sponsor of Fundación Amazonía Productiva. In conjunction with the foundation, Responsible Travel is active in a reforestation program. The area in the process of planting is located in San Antonio de las Aradas in Loja, Ecuador. In September 2019, there was a terrible forest fire that caused the loss of more than 4,411 hectares of forest, native grasslands, and crops in the Fundochamba and San Antonio de las Aradas parishes of the Quilanga canton of Loja, according to the Situation Report – Forest Fires at the national level 2019 of Ecuador’s National Service for Risk Management and emergencies.

Responsible Travel designates 5% of its profits for reforestation. This project involves the continuous care of the plants, which are endemic plants that really contribute to environmental care and a certificate of environmental responsibility. However, behind all this work there is a great help to the communities in the area, giving them an opportunity for economic income, so the positive impact is not only environmental but also social.

Figure 1: Benefits within the reforestation program

As depicted in the image, each planted tree incurs a cost, which is designated for activities encompassing seed collection, germination processes, nursery cultivation, transportation, replantation, and subsequent post-planting care for each tree. All these tasks are carried out by individuals from the local community. This type of arrangement was established with the sole intention of stimulating the economy in rural areas and providing an alternative source of employment for farmers.

Throughout this process, individuals undergo training to ensure the highest quality of the services offered, thereby contributing to the educational advancement of local families and the development of their agricultural skills. It’s worth noting that the program also benefits from collaborating with these individuals, as their ancestral knowledge offers valuable insights into the endemic species of the region, thereby achieving effective and efficient environmental restoration.
In this manner, the four primary species that have been planted are:

● Arupo – Chionanthus pubescens
● Higuerón – Ficus luschnathiana
● Lalatume – Cedrela fissilis
● Subo – Ficus yoponensis

Some other plantes species are:

● Laureles – Cordia alliodora
● Zapote blanco – Casimiroa edulis
● Aguacates – Persea americana
● Naranjos – Citrus sinensis

Approximately 1.055 trees have been planted as of December 2022.

ii. Social: Chaka-Sucúa Program

The Chaka-Sucúa project provides comprehensive educational support to young men and women of limited economic resources and at-risk situations in the Julio Padilla Educational Unit in Sucúa, during the school year (September-June); the main objective is to reduce school dropout and absenteeism at the higher basic level by providing direct support to adolescents to improve their quality of life and become role models in their communities.

This project was born because the statistics of the educational institution in Sucúa show that around 12% of the students drop out each year. The main causes for dropping out are low academic performance, low self-esteem, repeating the school year, emotional problems, pedagogical and methodological factors, economic situation, and early pregnancy. For teenagers, the result is that they frustrate their life projects by facing a life of difficulties, falling into addictions, and increasing early pregnancy. According to the Ministry of Education, the highest school dropout rate in Morona Santiago is 12.42%, the highest in Ecuador.

Responsible Travel’s fundamental contribution to this program is based on training, directed homework, donation of educational materials, and supplies at the beginning and during the school year.

As of December 2022, 15 young students have graduated, and support for the education of 9 young individuals currently enrolled in secondary school is being maintained.

c. Fair Trade relations with small businesses

Another of the actions carried out by the company is to establish fair trade relations with small enterprises of local people. This type of agreement seeks to encourage the economy of SMEs, in search of community development.
In order to meet this goal, Responsible Travel, within its services, delivers welcome packages to passengers, which include all national products, made by small artisans from various areas of the country and also promote in addition to our tourism products, handicraft products of very good quality in each of our participation in international fairs, such as the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB) and International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid (FITUR).

In 2022 the purchase of:

– 350 handmade handbags (Intisisa.org)
– 200 Biodegradable Handmade Soaps (astralbodyandmind.com)
– 50 Kawsana Coffee Bags

This not only benefits the businesses involved, but also seeks to preserve the traditions of artisan families and share Ecuadorian culture with the world.

4. Results

Once the calculation parameters have been established, it can be said that Responsible Travel should invest US$1.203,64 to offset the carbon footprint emitted in 2022, as shown in the table below:

Table 3: Calculation of investment needed for compensation

Project

US$ per tn of CO₂

tnCO₂

Total to Invest

Reforestation in America

$ 9,87

188.10 tnCO₂

$1.856,5

Community projects

$ 11,28

188.10 tnCO₂

$2.121,7

 

TOTAL

376,20 tnCO₂

$3.978,2

During 2022, Responsible Travel allocated a fund of $2,500 US dollars for carbon footprint offsetting through projects with the Amazonía Productiva Foundation. Combined with the differences of $796.36 US dollars from 2021 and $882.65 US dollars from 2019, this totals $4,179.01 US dollars, which compensates for the total CO2 emissions emitted throughout the year 2022.

Additionally, the surplus of $200.81 US dollars is used to offset the CO2 emissions from activities that cannot be calculated due to our technological and logistical limitations.

At Responsible Travel, we encourage all travel agencies and other institutions to join the fight against climate change by calculating their carbon footprint and contributing to the mitigation and compensation of emissions caused by daily activities.

For the record, this is signed in the city of Quito on January 6, 2023.

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